Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

31525607Title: Welcome to Lagos

Author: Chibundu Onuzo

Pub Date: January 7th, 2017

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Deep in the Niger Delta, officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets out on the road to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a vulnerable young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. The shared goals of this unlikely group: freedom and new life.

As they strive to find their places in the city, they become embroiled in a political scandal. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is determined to report the truth. Yet government minister Chief Sandayo will do anything to maintain his position. Trapped between the two, they are forced to make a life-changing decision.

Full of shimmering detail, Welcome to Lagos is a stunning portrayal of an extraordinary city, and of seven lives that intersect in a breathless story of courage and survival.

What can I say about this book? It’s full of people, the way I can imagine streets of Lagos are full of people with so many different stories. Welcome to Lagos is a story of seven different people, each of them running away, escaping their past, looking for new home in Lagos. Seven people whose lives intersect on a bus to Lagos and from then on, they stay together and share an extraordinary journey. Common goal can bring all sorts of people together.

The main focus of the group is Chike, leader of the group. He’s moral struggles are the ones we’re often faced with. He is the honest one among dishonest, among those who do not think if their actions are immortal, they just do what everyone else is doing, and they try to do it fist to gain the most. Part of the story line focuses on corruption in politics, it shows how badly it impacts disenfranchised citizens of Nigeria. Story gives us how hard it is to be honest, hard-working citizen when the country is turned against you. If you don’t know someone, if you cannot talk yourself into something, hustle your way up, your honesty and hard work may be for nothing. It’s always heartbreaking to see that some people, no matter how good and decent they are, just don’t have the opportunity to prosper. The contrast between wealthy Nigeria and the poor Nigeria is enormous, but people are just people, no matter how wealthy they are. And this novel shows us, in some way, that we put too much value in money, and too little in people.

Welcome to Lagos was in moments hard to read, because the characters use all the different languages, they speak in Pidgin which was hard for me to understand sometimes, but I think I didn’t lose so much of the story because I didn’t fully understand some conversations. I had an e-ARC version of the book, and it didn’t feature any translations, I don’t know if the final version has those translations. It didn’t bother me much, but I know some people don’t like that in books.

It was a great read, however it was very slow at the beginning. There was little action, I was struggling to get into the story. It only really started to pick up when the team was joined by the infamous politician, and then journalist. It all started to take shape and I got more interested. I liked how the Nigeria was portrayed in the story, it was different view than I got from reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie books. I’ve never been to Nigeria, so books is all that shaped my view of the country, and I’m definitely curious to learn more.

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