by Nikki May
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Pub Date 06 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 04 Jan 2023
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Doubleday
Fabulous friendship novel with a killer edge for fans of BIG LITTLE LIES and EXPECTATION
SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIES
'A journey of friendship, revenge and finding your true self. Gripping' STYLIST MAGAZINE
'I would definitely recommend this book to friends. I already have!' BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB
'What makes this slow-burn story of friendship and vengeance refreshing and original is the exhilarating ease with which it portrays a London steeped in the colours and sounds of Lagos' THE TIMES, Best Popular Fiction Books of 2022
Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London.
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English.
Not all of them choose to see it that way.
Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.
When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.
Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.
Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 267 members
I’m a sucker for a book which is described as “x thing I like meets y other thing I like” even though I’m nearly always disappointed. This one was described as “sex and the city meets my sister the serial killer”. And come on, how can I resist that?
I will say as a starting point, is it definitely much more of the former than that latter but I just had such a good time reading it. I genuinely could not put it down. All the characters as so well defined which I loved as a person who regularly gets characters mixed up! It’s also much more nuanced than I expected and comes together in a way which was much more sophisticated than I expected.
I ended up giving this 5 stars because I just had such a good time reading it. It’s a perfect summer read because it’s juicy and exciting and unputdownable without being thin or boring or over the top. I really loved this one and it was a great surprise!
This is bold, blistering, smart and witty. I absolutely loved Wahala! The book initially focuses on the lives and friendships of three mixed-race friends living in London. But Boo, Simi and Ronke are about to find their lives upended when Isobel, a glamorous friend from their past, turns up to wreak havoc.
May is absolutely impeccable at dialogue, and the relatable (often hilarious) exchanges between the characters are what really sets this novel apart from other books about female friendship groups. I loved learning more about Nigerian culture and found the way that each character juggles their two distinct cultural identities was really fascinating and well-drawn (also, there are so many good passages about food!). I relished how the slow-burn suspense built throughout the novel and how the reader was free to piece together the clues about newcomer Isobel before the main characters realised what was happening (almost like watching a car-crash in slow motion...). Think Sex and the City meets My Sister the Serial Killer. I'd highly recommend it.
Before I begin, I'd just like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, and Nikki May for sending me this ARC, and giving me the chance to read and review this joy of a book.
Set in London, Wahala follows three mixed raced friends in their thirties- Ronke, Simi, and Boo. They're all facing different issues in life, mostly relationship type things, but also at work
When lethally glamorous Isobel arrives on the scene, she seems determined to fix all their problems for them.
But soon Ronke, Simi, and Boo's friendship begins to crack, and they realise that Isobel isn't fixing, she's breaking. When she is driven to a terrible crime, the women are forced to look into their pasts and face the truth.
I really, really loved this book. It was gloriously dark, and the characters weren't perfect, but they were so real. It was so dark that at times it kind of shocked me to remember that it was based in modern day London- which was amazing. It was so real.
The best part was the way that Nikki May actually managed to use Isobel's influence on the reader. Isobel says 'you hate x' and you find yourself hating x. Like, wow.
And at the end, there's access to Ronke's recipes, which I loved. I love books with recipes as bonuses. Like, it's not like I'm going to make them (because your girl is lazy as hell) but it's just cool, you know?
Wahala is also OwnVoices Anglo-Nigerian rep.
My favourite character was Ronke. I think it was just her personality/vibe that I really liked.
The author notes reveal May has a background in advertising and that's apparent in this slickly executed tale of aspiration and revenge, which is so on point in terms of timing and references (that S&TC-meets-MSTS it's billed as, for example) the plot does, to some degree, feel brainstormed. Which is not to say it isn't also a big, warm-hearted read as well as a pacy one, with characters to root for aplenty, Very easy to see why the TV rights have been snapped up.
This is an excellent book about the relationships between three British Nigerian women an old friend and their are mostly absent fathers.
The characters are well rounded and I found myself sympathising with all three of Boo, Simi and Ronke.
I strongly suspect Ronke, a dentist with a so far lousy love life, is the author's favourite. She certainly is mine. I found myself rooting for her from the outset.
The plot focusses on an old friend from Lagos being reintroduced into the women's lives. Their fathers loom large as invisible main characters, though only Simi's appears.
I absolutely recommend this to anyone who wants a female focussed novel with a sinister plot twist.
And as a bonus the author includes Nigerian recipes at the end!
Wahala is a tense and biting novel about what happens to three friends when a glamorous newcomer joins their group. Ronke, Simi, and Boo have been friends since university, three mixed race women now in their thirties and dealing with life and love. When Simi's childhood friend Isobel appears, at first the others are unsure, but soon it seems like her whirlwind of money and style might improve all their lives. However, cracks start appearing in their friendships and relationships with their partners, and secrets from the past are coming back.
The book focuses on all three of the protagonists, with each chapter following a different one of them as they are drawn deeper into Isobel's world. The concept of the outsider who starts tearing apart a friendship group is a classic one, and this is a great example of the trope, with plot points all coming together and the reader knowing early on that Isobel is trouble, but being powerless to do anything but watch it happen. Sometimes stories with that kind of reader powerlessness frustrate me, but this one was carefully done so you trust that the plot is going somewhere.
The main characters are interesting, all at quite different points in their lives and dealing with their different relationships to their British and Nigerian heritage. Ronke was the most suspicious of Isobel, which made her engaging, and her hope throughout the novel was powerful. Boo's story was frustrating in a cleverly written way, as a part-time stay-at-home mum deals with having someone encourage her to spice up her life, but this makes her feelings of resentment for her husband and child harder to deal with. Simi's narrative was perhaps less thrilling, but gave a chance for exploration of the conflicts she faced at work and with her family, and also about a woman who does not want to have children.
There's a lot of issues explored in the novel in different ways, from dark comedy to more serious consideration of race and class (especially in the treatment of Ronke's boyfriend Kayode), and the book cleverly combines the plot with these elements. Wahala is a chance to plunge into the lives of three friends (like Isobel), and root for them to make it through without ruining their lives (unlike Isobel).
I don’t believe there has ever been a better time for such a dynamic novel. May has crafted a host of fearless, bold characters who leap off the page from the get go, and it was a pleasure to be so immediately immersed in Nigerian culture, which only exemplifies the author’s raw talent (I was also thrilled to find recipes at the end - what a treat!). The plot twist is fantastic, and I would absolutely recommend this work to anyone who loves suspenseful, contemporary narratives.
Thank you to NetGalley and Randomhouse UK/Transworld for the privilege!
I was eagerly anticipating this novel as I was totally sold on the "sex and the city x my sister the serial killer" and it didn't let me down.
I was gripped from the first page by this tale of toxic friendships, betrayal and past family secrets. Expertly weaving in 1990s Lagos and current London, May builds up the tension and pace between Iso and Ronke, Simi and Boo.
I can't wait to see this on tv too!
Ronke, Simi and Boo. Three friends who share the same dual English - Nigerian heritage.
And then there's Isobel. Isobel is trouble. And from the minute she arrives, the lives of the girls start unravelling...
Is the past repeating itself?
Absolutely wonderful characters
Three friends at varying stages of family life are muddling along nicely when a blast from the past comes onto the scene. The women all have links to Nigeria through birth, missing fathers and family. The newcomer is not the wonderful asset to the group that they all believe - and things start to fall apart.
A most enjoyable read - the friendship group was beautifully described, along with the paranoia often found in female groups. The plotting was skillfully handled and I felt for the three women as they were manipulated by the scheming Isobel.
Ronke, Simi and Boo are best friends, and nothing can come between them... until the glamorous Isobel inserts herself into their lives like a knife.
Smart, compulsive, and utterly readable, I raced through this book. Each woman's viewpoint is brilliantly painted, and the gradual unravelling of their lives and their secrets is darkly compelling. Nikki May has created a set of fantastic characters who pulled me in different directions, no matter what they were hiding. I really enjoyed this read and highly recommend it!
Such a colourful, descriptive book ! I loved the Nigerian theme and the characters are so well drawn that you feel you are in the room ! A fabulous first book and will make a tremendous film.
I absolutely loved this read. Friends at very different stages of their life doing very different things. Some really raw, hard hitting moments, and also contrasted with rich Nigerian culture. The thriller sneaks up on you ever so carefully and cleverly. Couldn't put this down.
Loved this story of three British-Nigerian friends and how their lives appear to grow more complicated when new girl Isabel arrives on the scene. Although split between the points of view of Ronke, Boo and Simi, Ronke seems to be the main character or at least the one the reader roots for the most. May weaves brilliant humour throughout, along with fascinating insights into Nigerian culture. Especially the food which all sounded delicious and there’s even recipes at the end which I felt was a really great touch. Highly recommended. Can’t wait to see what May does next.
I absolutely adored this book! It’s chock full of drama and social politics as it follows a group of friends in their thirties, offering a fascinating insight into their lives and into British-Nigerian culture. All the characters are wonderfully flawed and perfectly believable, really jumping off the page. The story is dark and addictive, with a surprising twist (that I won’t give away!) and Nikki’s writing is completely flawless. I can’t wait to see this adapted for TV (and to make Ronke’s jollof rice from the recipe at the end of the book). I would highly recommend this.
I absolutely loved this book! Brilliant characters and some great twists. Easy to read in one sitting.
Have already been recommending to others and look forward to reading more by Nikki May.
5/5 This book is absolute fire. I could not put it down. It is fantastically written, the story is so engaging and tense. Sexy, dark, addictive. What an incredible novel. I cannot wait to see it adapted into a TV series as it reads perfectly as one. The characters and their dual cultural heritage is a crucial part of the story and May perfectly depicts the internal battles women in their thirties so often face. Each character brings a different element to the story and adds such depth without it becoming too heavy.
I loved it and cannot recommend it enough!
I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to read this much anticipated debut and absolutely loved it. I was completely immersed in this over the course of a weekend and felt quite bereft when I finished reading. Wahala focuses on Ronke, Simi and Boo, 3 mixed race 30 something women living in London. Their worlds are changed dramatically when Isobel, a childhood friend of Simi's appears in their lives. May writes so insightfully, convincingly and honestly about race, friendship, relationships and careers. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC.
Thank you to the publishers and Net Galley for my free e-copy.
Wahala is the story of 4 women all of Nigerian background living in London. I have always loved finding out about different countries and backgrounds and as I have many friends with families from Nigeria I found this book interesting and relatable in many parts. I also loved the cultural food references and many times my tummy rumbled from the delicious descriptions.
When an old friend of Simi's turns up, is she really who she says she is , normally 3 is a crowd, but in this case could 4 be just as bad?
I really enjoyed this book. I loved some characters more than others which was I believe fully intended.
I will definitely be looking out for more from Nikki May
Wonderful characters with plenty of rich and vibrant detail of their shared culture from hair to food, belief systems and dreams along with their unique takes on which parts of that heritage are important to them and which they would rather leave alone..
I loved that the three friends were so different but gelled so well and I liked the easy-to-dislike Isobel with her slyness derailing the friends.
I loved this story of three friends who get entangled with a girl that has no intention of letting them get on with their normal lives. So many twists and turns. So excited to watch the series!
Ronke, Simi & Boo are three Anglo-Nigerian friends living in London. Ronke is a dentist with a stalker and a boyfriend who won't commit; Simi works in fashion (alongside people who think that calling her "urban" is a compliment) and is married to Martin, who wants to start a family as soon as possible despite being currently based in New York; and Boo feels trapped at home with her husband Didier and demanding toddler Sofia.
When Simi's glamorous (and recently divorced) friend Isobel joins the group, Ronke and Boo are immediately put out by her self-confidence, attitude, and extravagant displays of wealth. Soon, Isabel and the women become friends - but simultaneously, their lives all begin to unravel in ways none could have seen coming.
I loved this. It has been compared to Sex and the City, which I feel is inaccurate - not every group of four women needs to be compared to the ladies of NYC. The dark humour, the descriptions of Nigerian culture and food, the backstories - all were thoroughly enjoyable. I would take little notice of the "thriller" aspect of this - although the characters do all hold secrets that they really don't want made public.
What stops this becoming a 5* read for me was Isobel - I wish that she had had her own chapters. I didn't really feel like I knew what her endgame was, and the reveal was a little confusing and juvenile to me. Up until the end she came across as a sort of Panto Villain (which I'm absolutely on board with) so I found it a little hard to believe the extent of her malice. My favourite characters were Ronke and Didier, who I could have happily read ten more chapters about.
Wahala will be released in January 2022, and has also inspired a BBC drama adaptation written by BAFTA nominated writer Theresa Ikoko, who has described it as "Big Little Lies meets Girlfriends".
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
I absolutely devoured this book. The three main characters of Ronke, Simi and Boo are feel so incredibly real and well-developed, which makes the cracks in their friendship once Isobel is introduced even more heartbreaking. All three women are flawed and make mistakes, which makes it all the more interesting to read from each of their perspective’s.
I wasn’t able to predict where the plot was going which is a gripe I often have with thrillers, and the book touches on dark topics without making me want to put it down. On the contrary, I was enthralled the entire time, and I can totally see why it’s going to be made into a TV serial.
I adored the way that this book dealt with dual nationality, race, class, and identity. It felt like especially through the character of Ronke, May was writing a love-letter to British-Nigerian culture, which was incredible for me to read as a total outsider to that culture.
I loved Wahala. I loved the three main characters and finding out about their lives, past and present. I loved learning more about Nigerian traditions and food. An entertaining and absorbing read that makes you laugh, cry and shout out loud. I’m really hoping that we will hear more about Simi, Ronke and Boo!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for a free Advanced Review Copy of this book.
Wahala is certainly a great title for this story, as is the book cover with eyes covered. Wahala ... Trouble ... is here.
'The woman is huddled in the corner of her bedroom. Her dress is ruined--the button missing, the belt ripped. One seam has come apart, exposing her bare shoulder.' From this intriguing opening line, we then visit three friends in a Nigerian themed cafe, and all seems calm and normal. We know something is coming, but not when or what.
The plot and tension built slowly, but the characterisation and world building had me hooked right from the off. I knew a certain person was trouble, and waiting for it all to unfold and fall apart made the read enjoyable (not sure what that says about this reader, lols). Also, the explanation in the denouement was well worth the wait.
Here a some lines that stood out for me ...
'... you can't legislate your thoughts, they have a mind of their own.'
' 'Should a dentist be pushing rock-hard, deep-fried pastry?' | 'It's good for business,' said Ronke. 'My mortgage relies on broken teeth.' '
'Dad disapproved of alcohol except when he was drinking it.'
Excellently written, the characters come alive, and in a few scenes, we get to see realistic racism against the British from Nigerians who've lived in England for years but retained their own culture. The author shows us the many tensions and misunderstandings that real life brings, especially in a multi-cultural society that doesn't always make room for 'different', however that may manifest.
Wahala gets a resounding 5 stars from me, and I would highly recommend both this read and this author.
NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.
5 STARS: IT WAS AMAZING! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! — Highly Recommended.
4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.
"Wahala" is perfectly titled. That's number one.
This is a book that presents well-drawn, memorable characters embroiled in a saga that has left me wondering: do you know what your friends would do if they became desperate enough?
Simi, Boo, and Ronke live a good life. They have seen each other through university, weddings, children and careers. They love each other. They have so much to be grateful for. So much hope for the future. Their lives are not perfect but they are full.
And then they meet Isobel.*
The new element shakes the group up and what falls out is... astounding.
The little secrets we keep, the grudges we hold, the judgements we make -- in the wrong hands, these are dangerous.
Add a twisted, transcontinental family history, childhood trauma and a penchant for revenge and you've got one helluva story.
Wahala by Nikki May.
Wahala centres around three friends in London who are all mixed with English and Nigerian heritage. When an 'elite' Nigerian woman mingles her way into the centre of the friendship group, things start to take a drastic turn.
Wow, I'm so impressed with this debut from author Nikki May. Her writing for each character was extremely well thought-out, and even though I have little in common with the protagonists, they always felt relatable to me. There's a good chunk of Hausa and French in this book, so I always had to have my phone at hand to Google translations 😅 but I didn't mind at all, and it definitely made the story feel more real. The themes of friendship, motherhood, and marriage are central to the plot and I could hardly put the book down once I started reading.
I LOVED this book! If you enjoyed Queenie and My Sister, The Serial Killer, you'll enjoy this too.
This book will be published on January 11th 2022.
Thanks to @randomhouse for sending me an advanced copy to read via @netgalley.
Wahala is amazing. I couldn’t believe it was a debut, I couldn’t put it down. Nikki May has written a fantastic story of love, friendship, revenge and jealousy.
Wahala follows the lives of 3 Nigerian/English close friends, Ronke, Simi and Boo. Their friendship is unbreakable, secrets are kept, advice is given and everyone continues with their lives until we meet Isobel.
Isobel is stunning, absolutely loaded and has everything she’s ever wanted except friends. But is everything as it seems?
Life implodes for the friends. Marriages are on the rocks, crushing secrets are revealed and revenge is served.
I adored this book. The characters are well written. You can relate to their clique and all the dramas that go with it. May manages to capture the paranoia that inventively comes with having a close knit group of friends perfectly.
My thoughts as I read the story was that it would make amazing tv and I was thrilled to read that it is set for an adaptation soon.
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