Nigerian God-Punk - a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.
Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.
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I loved the concept of the gods falling from the sky as an apocalyptic event and the contrasts drawn between Lagos pre- and post Falling. This is dystopia in all its gritty and filth-covered glory and it makes all other dystopian scenarios seem gentle and kind by comparison. This is, in part, due to how near the verge of dystopia Okungbowa’s pre-Falling Lagos already was, with its inconsistent electricity supply and bad service delivery in general. Speaking as a South African, I found it all far more intimately relatable than any of the other novels I’ve read recently in the dystopian/urban fantasy genre were.
David is rough and tough but kind-hearted and I loved the relationship he has with his foster grandfather, the renowned wizard, Papa Udi. I didn’t feel much for his internal conflict over being a demi-god abandoned by his mother although Okungbowa relates his emotional states well. I enjoyed the mishmash of found family and unlikely allies that arise through the course of this novel but probably would’ve liked it more if there were more personal interactions between the characters.
This novel is divided into three parts, Godhunter, Firebringer, and Warmonger, and although the conflict ramps up throughout the novel, it reads more like a trilogy of novellas since the first two sections have their own conflict and resolution within the overarching plot. Okungbowa’s world-building is vivid and imbues this novel with an atmosphere of overall desolation that I could almost smell. The godlings are horrifying, their origins even more so, and Okungbowa’s depiction of the fallen Orisha deities is astounding in that it captures their very human natures as well as their staggering otherness. The battles involving the higher deities are jaw-dropping in scale and might, but nonetheless realistic enough to be believable.
The pidgin English was a little hard to follow at times but one gets the jist of these conversations through the narrative. Certain aspects were a little jarring, such as a crocodile screaming, but since it was a magical crocodile, I’m willing to let it slide.
Book provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review