Cover Image: Womb City

Womb City

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Member Reviews

The concept of this book was super interesting to me; a world where people can body hop and live hundreds of years while simultaneously, everything women do is controlled, even down to pregnancy. But unfortunately, I think most of it went right over my head. Things were a lot deeper than they originally seemed and it just confused me every time new information was given to the reader. I did enjoy the social conversations this book had throughout about wealth, race, sex vs. gender, and the overall struggles of being a woman, and I think that's what saved this book for me. I was super excited about this novel and I'm only slightly disappointed that I didn't love it.

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I was very confused throughout most of the story, so how i managed to still be entertained is beyond me. I guess i enjoyed the parts I could understand what was going on. I think it was just a lot of informational plot stuffed into the story, probably could have benefited from a longer book or split into series.

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That was one insanely macabre book. I think the author tried to put too many things, from AI to supernaturals and critiques to racism, capitalism, classims, etc etc. It was rather too much for me.

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One thing I can say about this book is that it’s full of creativity. But, despite having high hopes due to its promising premise, I found this book to be quite disappointing and I ultimately decided to stop reading at 43% for the following reasons:

1. The plot seemed scattered and lacked coherence. Most of the time I was bored and confused.
2. There were too many contradictions, especially concerning the main character. I didn’t understand her motivation, or who she was, and definitely not her actions. It was tedious to read.
3. I understand the book was about feminism and patriarchy, but it keep going back to the same conversations again, and again and again, it got tiresome and prevented me from forming my own opinions.
4. The world-building felt unnecessarily complex. Certain elements seemed forced and didn't contribute to the immediate plot development. Instead, they distracted from the protagonist's journey and made the story feel overly ambitious and convoluted.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the e-arc of this book!

Final rating is 3.75 stars, rounded up. Warnings for body horror and discussions of rape throughout the novel.

Womb City is an afro-futurist sci-fi that follows Nelah, an architect stuck in a controlling marriage. Nelah lives in a futuristic Botswana where lifetimes are now extended to over two hundred years, and people are able to body-hop after they die to live for hundreds of years. Nelah herself is living in a "criminal body," which is due to a prior host of her body committing a crime, so she is microchipped and monitored by the authorities and her husband to ensure she doesn't commit a crime herself. In a last-ditch effort to save her marriage and create the family she's struggled to achieve due to fertility issues, Nelah and her husband Elifasi commission a wombcubator to have a child. However, Nelah has also been having an affair with a professional acquaintance, Jan, and one night the two of them get into a car accident while high that results in the death of a young woman. Together they have to handle the situation and the spiral of consequences that follow.

When I first received this book, I struggled to get through it because the first half is very dense. This isn't necessarily a criticism, but there is a lot of worldbuilding and detailed explanations of the body-hopping system that were difficult for me to keep up with. I reread the book once it was published, and having a physical copy helped me a lot in terms of keeping the details straight. The worldbuilding is very intricate and I liked the attention to detail and culture that went into this. The book is interesting in the first half, but the plot doesn't really ramp up until about the halfway point, and from there it is pretty much non-stop until the end. It was a little slow getting through the first half, but I really enjoyed the second half. The messy relationships between the whole cast felt real and fleshed-out, and the myriad of twists near the end had me hooked. The ending was a bit of a deus ex machina, and probably would have made more sense if it wasn't so sudden. Overall, I did enjoy this book, and I would definitely read Tsamaase again in the future. Not sure how widely I could recommend it, as the body horror aspects can be a turn-off, but if these are your genres, I'd definitely give it a try.

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This book was a bit confusing but did make more sense towards the end. A lot of the book was spent on the world building, which was interesting in itself, but did make for a very slow pace. The commentary on policing women was sadly too realistic and plausible. Overall, interesting concept but could have been edited down a bit. Recommended for readers who enjoy futuristic books or detailed world building. Readers who like a straightforward narrative will want to pass on this one.

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Horror, Thriller, Dystopian, African- Futurism. Get ready for a wild ride.
The last 100 pages of this book were bombshell after bombshell that I didn't see coming!
Author has very political views about feminism, patriarchy, and femicide.
Loved the new Igbo words I learned that were scattered throughout this book.
Meet Nelah, her police husband Eli, Jan and Moremi.
This is like an African inspired version of 1984 and Minority Report combined. Great concept!

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2/5✨
BIPOC author. Afrofuturism.

First, thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I want to start by saying I DNF’d this at 11%.

Womb City follows Nelah, a woman with a great job, a baby on the way, and a husband who monitors her every move via microchip.

I really wanted to like this one. I think the premise is great and had so much potential. There were several cool sci-fi elements like microchips, recycled bodies, etc. I also think some of the themes explored like body agency were intriguing. However, the writing just really didn’t work for me. It was difficult to get into and every time I picked it up, I just had a hard time trying to read it. Other than that, I can’t think of anything I particularly disliked, except maybe the sluggish pacing, but this just wasn’t for me.

Although this book wasn’t for me, I do think this has its audience. If you like afrofuturism, unique and innovative sci-fi elements (like the aforementioned microchips and recycled bodies), and/or horror <check trigger warnings>, be sure to give this a try.

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I sadly could not finish this book and dnfed. I had high hopes for this book, especially since I love a debut but was disappointed. While the story had some pros, overall it seemed to take too much from previous media with any adaption to make it feel new or original. I could not get passed the FMC. While I understand the inherent misogyny in the society I was confused by the choices of the FMC and why she was unable to leave her husband.

I have future hope for this author and will be looking out for their next book.

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a pretty good debut! the pacing was a bit off and I found myself struggling to get through all the world building but I'm excited to see what this author does in the future.

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I had to DNF this book. The writing was beautiful and is what kept me writing, but the author spends so much time world-building that I got bored so quickly. I skipped multiple pages and the author was still world-building with barely any story. I also strongly dislike the world that they live in and I barely felt like breathing every time she was around her husband. I think that was the point, but OMG, I was so bored.

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I really really tried with this book, the premise is good like I thought I would eat it up but the actual performance of it didn’t quite catch me.
DNF-ing at 15%.

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Womb City is an Afrofuturist horror following Nelah, a woman living in high surveillance and technologically advanced Botswana. In this age, peoples' consciousness can outlive their bodies, "hopping" from one body to another. Nelah, whose body previously was occupied by a person who committed crimes, must constantly prove herself "pure" and crime-free through daily tests, a microchip that tracks her every movement, and a yearly review that predicts any "future crimes" she may commit as well. Despite this, Nelah has carved a life for herself -- she and her husband are going to finally have a daughter, her architecture firm is award-winning... Except, she's far from happy. When one drug-induced night of debauchery ends in horror, Nelah must figure out how to save her loved ones - all while grappling with the scream buried deep within her as she navigates a deeply misogynistic society.

Tsamaase is definitely a writer to watch. This Botswana is intense, and the logic behind its surveillance status doesn't seem far from where we are now. However, Nelah's personality and motivations constantly shift and make it very difficult to root for her or understand her actions. This, alongside the length of the novel, make the story tiring to follow after a while. Nelah will do x, then there will be a lamenting of misogyny and police state, then Nelah will completely move on from x.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this debut novel.

This book was okay. At first I was very confused, then less confused, then more confused again, to be somewhat understanding of the book as a whole. The concept of this novel was so very intriguing and I loved reading about how Nelah’s microchip controlled her life. However, the plot became tedious, and certain aspects became repetitive. This book is very bloody, but that didn’t bother me. Overall, I enjoyed learning about Matsieng’s footsteps in Botswana (I had never heard of this before this book, very cool!) and how the author weaved the story of creation into xer book.

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3 stars!
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First of all thank you to NetGalley, Tlotlo Tsamaase and Kensington Books for the e-book arc in exchange for an honest review!
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I really loved the world building and the entire premise of this book but it did fall short for me in a few ways.
The book felt really long and certain scenes were just too long and made me start to lose interest, which in turn made the reading process super long. I genuinely feel like if this book was shorter it would have been paced a lot better. The overall story was good, i just think it needed to be cut back.

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If you want to diversify your reading and like sci-fi, this is the book for you. I loved the commentary of the book and the discussions that it started.

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This felt like a lot of convoluted ideas in one....

Tsamaase got a bit too repetitive with the mother/daughter theme(s) and there were parts where I had no idea what was happening. It was a very worthwhile read and I hope others read it but it could have been a bit more coherent.

Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for the e-arc!

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*2.5 stars

The premise of womb city is really good - nelah lives in a futuristic version of botswana, in a microchipped body that is on it's third 'host'. Technology has made it possible for people's consciousness to body-hop, but just as in our current society, this brings along a lot of inequality. Women's bodies are not treated the same as men. This becomes extra clear when nelah accidentally kills someone in a drug-fueled accident, and must do her best to prevent the revenge-driven ghost from hurting her loved ones - and from having her consciousness locked away forever for the crime.

There are some really good passages about (gender) inequality in the book, but unfortunately, the writing of womb city didn't grasp me as much as the premise did. If I'm honest - I was quite simply a little bored and confused. The book starts out with a lot of world building - maybe even too much world building, as all the rules and regulations and different types of body swapping, and the lifespans, and the microchips, and the wait lists, and the illegal body selling really started to confuse me at some point. The first half of the book also feels quite repetitive, and not a lot happens plot-wise. In the end, I skipped quite a lot until 'the accident', which is where several reviews stated the book would pick up.

This is not a bad book: tsamaase has an excellent way with words. The accident scene and nelah's subsequent spiral are a prime example of that, and the story definitely picks up after that. But it still feels a little bit like it goes in circles: like it continues to come back to the same conversations, the same points. The unravelling of all the mystery and corruption was also a little too complex and confusing for my liking.

All in all, I didn't hate this, but unfortunately also definitely didn't love it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Erewhon Books for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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This book had such a strong premise and I was so excited to read more Afrofuturism, especially because it felt like it shared a connection with Handmaid’s Tale. But the set-up was just too long. I didn’t mind the very political/gender politics of it - that IS what made me request the ARC in the first place - but every really powerful moment/quote felt like it was repeated twice. By the time it got to the car crash mentioned in the blurb, I was st rating to really see the repetition and was wondering when the book would really start to take off. There was some really, really interesting and thought-provoking passages about what it means to be male or female in a society where body hopping is de rigeur, even as very heteronormativity and gender essentialism is so rampant in the society.

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"Womb City" by Tlotlo Tsamaase delves into a haunting yet compelling narrative where bodies serve as government-issued resources and surveillance reigns supreme.

As Nelha, the main character, puts it aptly, "We are born in dead bodies that make it easier to bury them, revoke them, and claim ones that will give us a better future."Nelah, the protagonist, navigates a dystopian world where she undergoes body-hopping to conceive a child, facing the relentless scrutiny of a surveillance state and grappling with the ramifications of her actions. Tsamaase weaves a chilling tale that deeply probes into motherhood, autonomy, and societal control.

Initially, I was captivated by the book's exploration of reproductive rights, interpersonal power dynamics, and a futuristic society with heightened restrictions on women's freedoms. Nelah's plight resonated as she fought against the invasive surveillance imposed upon her body. The narrative unfolds like a gripping spectacle, drawing readers into a web of intrigue and moral dilemmas. However, as the story progressed, it became increasingly convoluted, with several subplots vying for attention. Despite its ambitious scope, the proliferation of narrative threads detracted from the book's overall impact, leaving me longing for a more streamlined focus.

"Womb City" prompts readers to ponder profound questions about state surveillance, familial bonds, and the intersection of race and identity in a technologically advanced yet morally bankrupt society. While the novel's premise is undeniably compelling, its execution falters under the weight of excessive plotlines. Nonetheless, Tsamaase's debut offers a thought-provoking journey into a world where humanity's boundaries are tested, urging us to confront the consequences of unchecked power and the sacrifices made in the pursuit of freedom.

Rating: 3.25 Stars. It Won't be the last Tsamaase book I read.

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