Godhunter - from demigod to full-on hero
David Mogo, Godhunter – Suyi Davies Okungbowa
David Mogo is a Godhunter - a man hired to hunt down godlings from the afflicted Lagos and make the haunted places less hostile to humans. Except, Mogo himself is not fully human, but the son of a goddess, raised by a wizard. And, as events escalate, the fight to protect humans from horror will ask of David Mogo to move beyond his humanity, into his full divinity. The price he will have to pay, whether he succeeds or doesn’t, will be a heavy one either way.
Mogo, telling his story in the first person, shares his weaknesses with the reader, while describing a derelict, fabulous, apocalyptic environment plagued by the embodiment of the gods of Nigerian folklore. His narrative of life in Lagos is flawed, dismal, yet poignantly yearning for the simplicity of human interaction. His hero’s journey is clear, asking us what we would do in his stead.
Who would enjoy this
This is clearly an adventure story, reminiscent of tales such as Star Wars or The Hunger Games, blended with monsters and dark magic, though not a teen read. It is fast paced, and aggressive, asking for readers with very visual imaginations, able to ‘sense’ the descriptions the narrator shares. It is also quite bloodthirsty, clean in its warrior quest, irrespective of gender. This is purely a read for entertainment purposes, which would give an added bonus to readers interested in other cultures. And if they enjoy doing information searches, and guessing at vernaculars of barely-there English, the more the fun!
Who should give this a pass
This is not for readers who wish for a love story, or an exaltation of love and peace. Also, this is not a window into Nigerian life, despite its setting and use of cultural and linguistic markers. Thus, I would not recommend it to those looking for a book that would ease them into African literature. On the other hand, it would not fit readers who are hoping to be able to follow the story without understanding said markers. Okungbowa seems to expect the reader to be, or become, aware of those elements, therefore it might not be everyone’s definition of an easy blockbuster read.
Conclusions and suggestions
David Mogo, Godhunter, is an entertaining book. It is particularly interesting in its weaving of authentic Nigerian elements into the fantasy of Lagos after the Falling. I found it very revealing, in itself, how it counter-mirrors the concept of the Rapture, by presenting the complete opposite scenario: what if the gods of pagan cultures had been expelled and dumped on our planet, rather than have humans lifted from this planet into a divine after-world? More than that, what makes one event more probable than the other, and what would make one worthy?
Okungbowa builds his tale heavily on both the hero’s journey stages, and the fast pace of an action thriller, yet retaining enough of his own Lagosian roots to be different. However, the work is not a pretentious tale, despite its careful structure and underlying moral; instead, it is clearly a project aimed at international audiences, both enjoyable and an object of wonder (how much more extreme this could be, if allowed to go full ‘Nollywood’). I enjoyed it quite a lot, the pace making sure I was able to go through it swiftly, the better to be swept into its action.
In order to appeal to a larger audience, I would suggest:
- reducing some of the action in favour of a deeper insight into the main character’s humanity.
- adapting the vernacular slightly, to ease understanding for standard English speakers.
- enjoying the climax resolutions. There seems to be a lot of build up to the climactic scenes, followed by a short event and quick drop afterwards.