Wanjiku Wa Ngugi’s debut novel entices the reader with an interesting premise that has the potential to be different, and yet remain in the comfort zone of the “don’t trust your spouse” sub-genre that has dominated 2013/2014. In reality however, it falls a little short.
As an expat myself, I am always interested in stories told from the point of view of a person who is not on home turf. That element, added to the fact that it had potential to explore modern African culture, is what initially attracted me. The novel has all of these aforementioned elements, but the exploration of each one is rather lackluster. It is almost like an imposter, a fake, trying to emulate these experiences, has written the story, and that is really disappointing. Disappointment is the main feeling I experienced when reading this novel.
The suspense element was fine; it wasn’t particularly nail-biting, but it kept you on your toes for a few chapters. However, some of the dialogue and the situations that the characters faced, felt very trite and forced, resulting in a lot of eye rolling and mutters of “really?”.
However, in amongst the negative points, there were a few positive aspects. The scenes in Kenya were interesting and descriptive. They felt organic and genuine for the majority of the time. Also, as previously stated, the main protagonist, Magure, did have some potential moments that manage to escape from the disappointing moments.
It really wasn’t a bad read, but I think I set myself up to expect a lot more than I received. I definitely recommend you try it; after all, there are far worse books out there, and the author will hopefully produce a stronger novel in the future.
(ARC provided for an honest review)