Oil On Water : A Book Review

Yesterday I saw a tweet talking about how you're not a blogger if you've never started a post apologizing for being inconsistent. That made me chuckle and now here I am, finding myself doing the same thing. I do apologize guys, my posting this month has been a bit sporadic. Life just keeps happening and I've been a bit under the weather this past week.

I was at my local library searching for new books to borrow, my eyes and neck were hurting as I had been bending my neck for quite a while to look at the books on the shelf. Does that happen to anyone else? That's when I spotted the name; Helon Habila. Two years ago, I read my first book by this author; Measuring Time and it was such a surprising read. I thought it wouldn't be that interesting and my friend Moni who I borrowed it from thought the same thing. Turns out we were wrong and I ended up liking the book. Which is why I was really glad when I came across Oil On Water at the library.

Year of Publication: 
Author: Helon Habila 

Okay, a little bit of history first........

The Niger Delta is the region in Nigeria where crude oil was first discovered back in 1956. It's a riverine region and the main livelihood of the people there was/is fishing. Upon the discovery of oil, foreign oil companies came to Nigeria to drill for oil and they've been here ever since. The sad part is that the people in that region were exploited, their rivers were polluted and a lot were forced out of their towns and villages. A lot of them were killed too.
The Niger Delta militants are indigenes of the said region and their purpose was/is to fight the foreign oil corporations whom they believe exploited their land and their people. Some people are for them and some are against them but I'm not going into all of that. I just wanted to give a little bit of a background.

Now on to the proper review .....The story is about two journalists; Zaq a former household name and Rufus, an upcoming journalist who are sent to the Niger Delta with other journalists to interview the militants who have kidnapped the wife of a British expatriate. Along the way, various events cause the other journalists to turn back but these two keep at it. Through out the book, stories of various people are told. The stories of the indigenes of the communities that have been exploited, the stories of Zaq & Rufus, how they met and the pains they've suffered partly from the government too, the stories of the militants themselves and the government soldiers who are out to get them. The flashbacks and double flashbacks can be a bit confusing at times but it's still quite interesting.

The first thing that I liked about the book was the history. The issues in the Niger Delta have always been on the news but I didn't know a lot about it. This book definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things. There's so much about Nigeria that I don't know!

Oil On Water highlights how greed and not being content with what you have can cause ghastly repercussions. We see this in Rufus's story when he explains the things his father did that ultimately changed the lives of his family members, particularly his sister. We also see this in the story of why the white woman was kidnapped in the first place. Just a handy reminder that being greedy never pays.

It also teaches about being kind to everyone you meet and always helping people when you know that you can help. Many times in the book, Zaq and Rufus would have been harmed if not for the kindness of strangers.

I could go on and on but I think I'll stop here haha.

I really liked reading about the Niger Delta and learning more about what's still going on in the area till date. I like how it wasn't one sided at all, the author ensured that everyone gave their side of the story. It really is a nice story but the ending really annoyed me. I didn't like it at all. Who else hates endings where you're left hanging?  The flashbacks and double flashbacks made the story a bit confusing at times but I soon got the hang of it. The book is also not very big so can easily be finished in a few days or even one day if you have time.

Rating: 3.9/5


  1. I've always seen this book in stores, but I never bothered to pick it up. I haven't read Measuring Time yet, maybe that's why I wasn't so interested in this one. I'll definitely give it a try whenever I can.

    Lovely review xx

    1. I know you have Moni's copy of Measuring Time, you should totally read it! Thanks babe <3

  2. I've been pretty consistent too, haha. It's difficult to blog these days given how much social media platforms have taken over. But it's nice to check in whenever you can! Loving this detailed review - thank you!

    Looks by Lau

    1. It really is a struggle to be consistent sometimes, glad you get it. And thanks for reading Christina! xx

  3. You're right, I've only heard what I have seen and read with the news but do not know a lot about the history. This sounds very interesting and I'd give it a read. Thanks for sharing. <3

    1. Yay, hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading :)

  4. haha I've stopped apologizing for it. And another thing I've stopped apologizing for is posting about something late (because sometimes I'll mention an experience in my weekly recap but not have my full blog post up until weeks or months later). // I used to browse books by author back in elementary/middle school, but since then I've browsed by title. It's always nice finding an author you love! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. Yesss, life does get in the way of blogging sometimes and I'm sure everyone understands that. I was so happy to find a book by this author! xx

  5. Never heard of this book. Definitely one for my list.

    1. Hope you like it, thanks for reading! :)

  6. I think I would like you enjoy that it isn't one sided! Thanks for the review!

    xx Sofia | SOFIAADOT

    1. Yup, same! It made it more enjoyable. Thanks Sofia! :)

  7. I feel the same way these days since we are moving and we have no internet access yet, I am currently having my coffee in a coffee shop and taking advantage of their free wifi. It's difficult to do everything without internet access haha, I have plenty of posts ready for next week but I don't know how I am going to publish them!! x


  8. I stopped apologising a while ago, life gets in the way sometimes, I have learnt to embrace it.
    Great post!

    Vanessa x | www.springlilies.com

  9. I have read all of Helen's books and he is such a great writer.

    We all apologise for disappearing from blogsville once in a while. It is not easy post all the time.

  10. I haven't come across either this book or Measuring Time! Sounds up my street though so I think I'll check it out. Also, that line about starting a post with an apology - that is SO true! Whoever came up with that hit the nail on the head!

  11. I've been wanting to read more naija based books. I think more of us need to learn history to better appreciate where we are and figure out how to move forward. I am from the Niger Delta and find this review to be very relevant. Now on to find it for purchase! More reviews please.

  12. Helon Habila is one of my favourite authors. No doubt, he's the king of flashbacks.
    There's nothing I hate like being left hanging in a work of fiction. urgh! That so what next feeling can be annoying.


  13. I would love to read this because fiction books with a historical element are definitely my thing, although I am not a fan of disappointing endings :') And don't apologise for being inconsistent - I too have had to have a blogging break due to life getting hectic, and oftentimes it is okay for blogging to take a backseat!

    maria | http://whatismaria.com

  14. Great Review;the title is very intriguing just like the story.

  15. Ah, the sorry for being MIA post...

    It happens to all of us Demilade, its the story of our busy lives. Don't feel too bad about it and just make sure to keep us on the loop whenever times are busy.

    Thanks for the book suggestion! I don't think I would choose this one because of the open-ended ending. I do not like to be left hanging (unless there's an upcoming sequel) because then I continue to ponder about what the ending could have been.

    I look forward to your next post! And if you have time stop by Freestyle Moda I just uploaded a 50 Facts About Me post. I'm trying to show my readers a more personal side of me.

    Freestyle Moda Blog

  16. I agree girl, there really is so much about Nigeria that we don't know and that's because they don't teach us our history. Thank God for books that help shed light on these things. And lol at the tweet but it's so true.

    Princess Audu

  17. Looks interesting! Great post!



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