Reviews

David Mogo, Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

nicobella's review against another edition

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2.0

The first chapter and quippy writing style immediately hooked me in. The dystopian world of fallen gods and wizards and demigods kept me interested for quite a while. This short book is fast-paced, but that turned out to be a pro and a con. Pro because something new was always happening and at first I gobbled it up, but con because I was fatigued by the end and disinterested in the conclusion honestly. Also, it was just very plot and action driven and there wasn’t as much time spent on character and relationship development…I think it was a missed opportunity to really elevate the book.

cathepsut's review

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5.0

A new take on classic Urban Fantasy—Godpunk?

Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. An old wizard with dubious morals sends David Mogo off to catch two high gods, Taiwo and Kehinde. David is in need of money to fix his roof, so off he goes, despite his misgivings about this wizard. Obviously things don’t go as expected.

This was the first part in a book that reads like three novellas collected in one volume, with a red thread running through them and each connected closely in terms of time, location and characters. Enjoyable, even though I never really connected with David Mogo on an emotional level.

I looked up a lot about Nigeria, the orishas, Nigerian Pidgin, a lot of vocabulary, food items, clothing styles, etc. Then I was looking up info about Lagos, Victoria Island, Makoko, and, and, and... all this kept slowing down my reading speed, as I kept going off on tangents and looking something up almost constantly... My kind of fun!

I struggled a bit with the Nigerian Pidgin used in some of the dialogues, but decided to just go with it — I hope I managed to get the gist of the conversations.

Interesting article in the Guardian about the floating city of Makoko:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/feb/23/makoko-lagos-danger-ingenuity-floating-slum

Bottomline: I had fun, my imagination got engaged, I learned a lot of new things, I enjoyed the writing. I would read more by this author. 4.5 stars.

+*+*+

Part of my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. I read this for the March prompt, „A Work of Fiction“.

Post about the March prompt: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/02/08/nine-works-of-fiction-by-authors-of-color-to-expand-your-reading-list/
Main challenge: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/12/11/reading-writers-of-color-2021/

From the author‘s website: (slightly amended)
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and other speculative works inspired by his West-African origins. His new epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic, is forthcoming from Orbit, beginning in May 2021 with [b:Son of the Storm|50718369|Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic, #1)|Suyi Davies Okungbowa|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1601953281l/50718369._SY75_.jpg|75749627]. His highly-anticipated debut, the godpunk fantasy novel David Mogo, Godhunter, won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Speculative Novel by an African. Learn more at suyidavies.com.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

renogan's review against another edition

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adventurous dark funny medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.25

arthuriana's review against another edition

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2.0

this had a very compelling premise but the execution was a bit bland and dry. the character voice fell flat and the plot seemed tedious and repetitive. the pacing is very uneven and i question the inclusion of the last two parts. i know trilogies are getting kinda tired and worn out in the ya fantasy genre, but this might have benefitted from either trimming the plot or going fully maximalist and really expanding on all this. as it is, this felt both lacking and still too dense, all at once.

lu_ranger's review against another edition

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adventurous dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

I loved this book's description of Lagos, the way it introduces Yoruba culture and a little bit of Nigerian Pidgin, and I loved the setup of the start of the story. About half-way through, the plot gets less intriguing for me. While the authir lost me in some of the action scenes, I did like the writing style and I'm very glad I picked up this book as I learned some really interesting facts thanks to it. 

siavahda's review against another edition

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5.0

I received a free arc of this book from the publisher via Net-Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

I don't know where to even start when it comes to talking about this one. It blew my mind to the point that even now, several days after I finished, I'm still reeling.

When I dissect what I read, it's a little difficult to figure out why it had so much impact; superficially, this is a story I've read many times, a coming-of-age tale wherein a young man must claim his full, supernatural potential in order to save the people and place he loves. I mean, that's an ancient story; we've been telling variations of it for eons, right?

But as with all stories, it's how you tell it that matters. It's the script and the costumes and the set dressing, the stage make-up and the actors you cast for the roles, that combine to make a story unique regardless of how many times it's core has been told before. And I really feel like Okungbowa has done something special here.

I remember the first time I read a Russian fantasy novel (in translation!) and realised that it's more than setting that changes how a story feels; just as I can't (generally) stand books published in the 90s or earlier because the writing style of the time just doesn't work for me, different parts of the world seem to have their own styles, too - it's not limited to time periods. Australian fantasy is just different to (North) American fantasy, as is Russian, as is German, as is Chinese. I don't have the linguistic or literary knowledge to put into words exactly how they're all different - and it's not like they're a monolith or anything. But it's clear to me that different cultures flavour their stories differently - which makes perfect sense when you think about it, doesn't it?

David Mogo, Godhunter is like that; it doesn't feel like an American or (Western, I have no experience with Eastern) European fantasy novel. Maybe it wouldn't feel quite so mind-blowing to someone more familiar with Nigerian literature (or, honestly, Nigeria in general), but for me, raised on a very Western diet stretching from Lord of the Rings onwards, it felt brand-new and fresh and raw and dizzying, all at once. I can't say for sure, having never been there, but what I want to say is that it's more than the fact that DM,G is set in Nigeria; I think it might intrinsically be a Nigerian story, coming from a literary tradition I'm not familiar with, influenced by a culture I don't know.

I just don't think a white British author could have pulled this off, is what I'm saying here.

And to be honest, I suspect that that might be at the root of many of the negative reviews I've seen for this book; DM,G is so different stylistically from what most of us (white, Western) readers are familiar with that I can see why some people might reject it, without ever quite being able to put their finger on what it is that actually bothers them about what they're reading. I will freely admit I struggled to adapt for the first few chapters, and I absolutely had trouble learning everyone's names and keeping them all straight - but that was solely due to my own unfamiliarity with Nigerian names; I have the same problem with Finnish names, and I've been living in Finland for years now. If you've never read a Nigerian novel before - if you've never strayed far from your comfort zone of straight, white, mostly-cis-male writers - then yeah, you're going to have to put some extra work in in order to get the most out of this book. But it's damn worth it.

And besides, Okungbowa is very considerate of his white readers; I've seen reviews complaining about info-dumping, but a) I found all the info I needed woven very deftly into the narrative, and b) I needed that info! When I pick up a book by a white American man, I'm engaging with a literary tradition I'm familiar with; just like fanfiction writers don't need to introduce the characters - because the readers are fans who already know those characters - no one needs to break down a generic Medieval-esque-European setting for me. No matter how original the story, I recognise and understand something about its basic nature. I didn't have that to fall back on with DM,G - which made everything new and interesting in a way I don't get to experience often, but yes, also meant Okungbowa needed to introduce me to...well, a lot. And you know what? He did it incredibly well. I never felt overwhelmed, bored by information I didn't care about, or confused about what was going on. One example stands out very clearly in my memory; during a battle scene, David is faced with a kind of monster he knows but that this particular white reader did not - a creature from Nigerian mythology. And I was awed at how quickly and perfectly Okungbowa conveyed the information I needed during a fight scene, without bogging down the action at all. Worldbuilding via fight scene? That's just ridiculously impressive.

Another critique I've seen is that the dialogue shifts between what I wince to call 'proper' English and what is probably Naijá, or Nigerian Pidgin (although it's never named in the book), and look - even I know that people switch back and forth between British English and Naijá depending on the situation and setting, and probably mood and personal preference too. That David speaks British English with some characters some of the time, and Naijá at other times - particularly with his adopted father, who speaks Naijá exclusively - is completely normal. It would be weird if he didn't. Was it sometimes hard to understand what was being said? Sure, but no more so than when LotR delves into Elvish. When a fantasy book has instances of a fantasy language, 99 times out 100 context makes the meaning clear, and the same is true with this book (which, let me reiterate, is not using a fantasy language, it's a real language real people speak and which the characters are obviously going to be familiar with). And as someone who tears her hair out every time Hollywood shows us Germans speaking English with each other when there are no native English speakers present, I appreciated getting to see these characters speak like, you know, real people. It anchored the fantastical elements really well.

Look, I will defend this book against all comers, okay? Okungbowa not only came up with an amazing premise, he wrote a story that lived up to it - how often does that happen? The magic! The fight scenes! And oh my gods (literally), the mythos! The more that was revealed about the Falling - when the gods showed up on Earth - and what had caused it and also, you know, the nature of gods and the various pantheons and everything - the more I learned about that, the more I wanted to gush about this book to literally everyone. I am so in love with so many things I can't talk about here because spoilers, which is so frustrating! I don't know how to convince you to go read this when I can't tell you why.

But basically, if you're not afraid of moving away from traditional (blegh) fantasy, if you're into cinematic magic and mythology and seriously weird found-families, if you want grit along with your action, if you want something new and wonderful, then this is definitely a book for you.

Seriously, give it a go. I can't imagine regretting it.

annarella's review against another edition

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3.0

I was fascinated by the concept but I think the delivery was not up to my expectations.
I found it confusing and the plot seems to have some issues.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

kerrimcbooknerd's review against another edition

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3.0

Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

The gods have fallen to Earth and the world has been irreversibly changed.

This is the story of David Mogo, a demigod who occupies his time in this post-Falling time by hunting down creatures called godlings and sending them back to the area of Lagos that has been occupied by the fallen gods. One day, he gets a proposition from a local wizard to score a lot more cash for a much more dangerous job. What happens afterwards changes David's life forever.

This book is broken into three parts, following David and the aftermath of the decisions he makes. The last two sections I enjoyed immensely! They were fast-paced, gripping, and incredibly readable. I tore through the last two parts so quickly and the ending was so satisfying. You're probably wondering why this book is only getting three stars if I liked it quite so much.

It's because of the first section. The first section just dragged for me. I couldn't connect with the characters, I couldn't connect with the story, and it just felt blah until the very end. I was close to DNFing the book before the end of the first section picked up and compelled me to read the rest. I think my main issue with the first section was that there was no depth to the characters, especially our titular character, David Mogo. He felt so flat and boring, which you would think would be hard to do with a demigod. Thankfully, he felt much more fleshed out in the subsequent sections, which is why I think I enjoyed them so much. Also, the action was better paced in the last two sections as opposed to the first, where it felt like it was all crammed in at the end.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book if you can power through the first third of it! I think it's worth it to keep going!

valia's review against another edition

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3.0

This book was really difficult to read for me. English is my second language and I had to read really slowly or google search for me to get some of the phrases. BUT, the story was so interesting that I'm not mad about it!
Of course, I didn't know anything about the culture and the deities in this book, and it was really fun to learn about them in this setting. This is a self discovery story all around a demi god and set in Nigeria, yes please!
Unfortunately, I think the writing style was not for me and all the problems I had with understanding really affected my overall enjoyment of this.


Characters 9
Atmosphere 6
Writing style 5
Plot 8
Intrigue 7
Logic 6
Enjoyment 6

lipglossmaffia's review against another edition

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4.0

As a Nigerian girl, all my life I read fantasy books by white writers and always understood it no matter how it was written. I was almost misdirected by reviews of white readers of this book. Most of them don't seem "to get it." They DNF it at 25% and have the guts to put long commentary on the book, they even go as far as rating a book they didn't finish. Who the hell does that?!?

Enough of this negative talk, here is why you should read David Mogo, Godhunter.

1- It’s a pleasurable adventure. A demigod and some mortals get to fight gods. On the streets of Lagos. Just visualize that for a bit. If you know nothing about Lagos Nigeria, YouTube is your friend.

2- In the realms of the unbelievable, it’s important that the lead character is portrayed realistically and deeply. David Mogo is a demigod and has the personality to go with that. I was rooting for him a lot even though he was so cocky sometimes but he’s a demigod, I’d be cocky too.

3-When I read fantasy fiction, I expect the writer to be crazy, be inventive and not play safe just like Jemisin did in How Long ‘Til Black Future Month(that’s my standard now). I’m glad Suyi Davies put in the effort. Especially as the location for the book is such a famous city. He also made some changes to the gender of a god that I applauded.

4- His worldbuilding is wonderful. Again, Lagos is a very popular city, I live in Lagos but since I’ve read the book, I can’t look at Lagos the same. I just keep seeing things differently. So weirdly amazing.

5- Through fantasy, we can talk about real-life issues in a removed way. and David Mogo Godhunter does a decent job of addressing Nigerian police brutality.

This is one of the most entertaining fantasy books from a Nigerian writer and if you've read better, drop your comments.