Binti (Binti, #1)
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

Binti (Binti, #1) Details

TitleBinti (Binti, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 22nd, 2015
PublisherTor.com
ISBN-139780765384461
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Novella

Binti (Binti, #1) Review

  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the novella's grounding in cultural differences and the twist of a strong math "Harmonizer" tech, and while I also appreciate the fundamental message of acceptance, I had a really hard time with the message's the execution here.Don't get me wrong, the writing was good and I loved the firm opening leading to a great horror tale set in a well-imagined SF universe, complete with a reverse fish-out-of-water twist. It's what happened afterward that I take umbrage.I like tales of acceptance. I enjoyed the novella's grounding in cultural differences and the twist of a strong math "Harmonizer" tech, and while I also appreciate the fundamental message of acceptance, I had a really hard time with the message's the execution here.Don't get me wrong, the writing was good and I loved the firm opening leading to a great horror tale set in a well-imagined SF universe, complete with a reverse fish-out-of-water twist. It's what happened afterward that I take umbrage.I like tales of acceptance. It is a core trope of SF, for heaven's sake.What I don't like is a completely insane turnaround in a plot firmly rooted in terrorism and attempted mass-murder of (view spoiler)[ a whole university after the aliens killed almost everyone on Binti's spacecraft. And it was all done because the chief lost his stinger. (hide spoiler)] Where is the consequence of these horrible actions? (view spoiler)[Oh, we're slapping the wrists of the scientists who lopped off the chief's stinger and exiling them to some other place in this galaxy of worlds. And all that death that you aliens caused? Yeah, fine, whatever, here's the stinger and by the way, you want to go to school here? (hide spoiler)]WTF.Sorry, this might have been pulled off better had it been a much longer format with a lot more than a hate-and-prejudice exhortation of death in place of a meet-cute. Perhaps an adventure a-la Enemy Mine where they have to learn, slowly, to tolerate each other. And THEN end with (view spoiler)[Hi, Binti, child ambassador. (hide spoiler)]And don't get me started on Why Mud Cures All Ails. (view spoiler)[The aliens are high-tech. They even managed to alter Binti at the molecular level. Are you seriously telling me that they couldn't figure out that a bit of mud would save all their people's ailments and turn Binti into some honoured demigod? Read my lips: Deus Ex Machina. (hide spoiler)]Other than these fairly huge issues, though, I thought the novella was charming and well-written and it might have been something quite glorious with a bit more meat and plot. I'm glad I read it. :)
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    WINNER!!! 2015 nebula for best novella!! shows what i know!and now hugo winner, too! i cannot be trusted to speak about books! i know nothing!having been gleefully freeloading off the free tor shorts for years now, i absolutely want to support tor in their "buy some novellas, cheapskate"* endeavor, especially since the first one i read - Every Heart a Doorway - was one of the best things i have ever read ever. but even though Binti won/was nominated for a billion awards, it was only WINNER!!! 2015 nebula for best novella!! shows what i know!and now hugo winner, too! i cannot be trusted to speak about books! i know nothing!having been gleefully freeloading off the free tor shorts for years now, i absolutely want to support tor in their "buy some novellas, cheapskate"* endeavor, especially since the first one i read - Every Heart a Doorway - was one of the best things i have ever read ever. but even though Binti won/was nominated for a billion awards, it was only medium-enjoyable for me. i'd read Lagoon by this author, with the same general reaction (even though I KNOW everyone tells me Who Fears Death is incredible, and i believe them and i will read that one, because every author gets three chances with me)this is the first book in what i expect will be a trilogy, and it's only 90 pages, so it's hard to be hypercritical of it, although just now reading the synopsis for part 2, it takes place a year later, so i guess this part of it is over and i can be as critical as with any other book. so - first, the good things: i really like the character. 16-year-old binti comes from the isolated himba region whose desert community holds fast to its customs and where the emphasis is on family, science, and a connection to the land so deep that no one ever leaves their homeland. however, binti, despite the privileges of her family, cannot refuse the unprecedented opportunity to study at the oozma university, which offer has never before been granted to a himba. I was sixteen years old and had never been beyond my city, let alone near a launch station. I was by myself and I had just left my family. My prospects of marriage had been 100 percent and now they would be zero. No man wanted a woman who'd run away. However, beyond my prospects of a normal life being ruined, I had scored so high on the planetary exams in mathematics that the Oozma University had not only admitted me, but promised to pay for whatever I needed in order to attend. No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really.on her journey towards the terminal, binti feels her outsider status acutely. because her people never leave their land; because they are so insular, other people assign characteristics to them through lack of contact/experience: they are assumed to be backwards, primitive, and filthy, in part because of the himba custom of smearing their bodies and hair with a fragrant paste made from the clay of their land, as well as their darker skin and fuzzy hair.once binti makes it to the ship (which is actually a living creature "closely related to a shrimp"), surrounded by other prospective students, she has an easier time acclimating, and even makes friends and develops a crush on a boy. and then the meduse arrive, and everything goes sideways.for the characters and this reader both. again, binti is a remarkable character - she's plucky, brave, resourceful, and supersmart but she's not unrealistically heroic and capable - she's never experienced life beyond her home and family, and her discomfort and awkwardness are appropriate for someone with her background. i also appreciated the attention to detail given to the customs of her people, and her memories of her life among them. but from the meduse part on, there seemed to be a motivation to reach a desired ending without respecting the consequences of certain actions, which brad addresses admirably in his review, to which i can add nothing more because it speaks to every single "but wait" objection i had while reading this and i don't wanna be a plagiarist. like him, i appreciate the message, but the delivery of the message was a bit trite and slapdash. however, i like the character enough (and i owe tor enough), that i will likely read the second part of this. this novella is completely appropriate for a YA audience, and i think it would be better received by younger readers, who tend to read more for plot and enjoyment than old folks like me who suck all the joy out of books with too-nitpicky dissections resulting from too much academic training in joy-sucking.i still love you, tor, and i will continue to love you both for free and for ca$h.*not actual name of programcome to my blog!
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  • Lyn
    January 1, 1970
    I like originality and I also like a story told economically and writer Nnedi Okorafor gets my high praise in both categories for her 2015 novella Binti.Okorafor has created in Binti a speculative fiction gem where a reader is led along a culturally alien yet approachable thrill ride. At once fascinating and hair raising, Okorafor has crafted a dynamic tension that grips the reader throughout this short work.Binti is a student who has been accepted into a far future academy and chooses to attend I like originality and I also like a story told economically and writer Nnedi Okorafor gets my high praise in both categories for her 2015 novella Binti.Okorafor has created in Binti a speculative fiction gem where a reader is led along a culturally alien yet approachable thrill ride. At once fascinating and hair raising, Okorafor has crafted a dynamic tension that grips the reader throughout this short work.Binti is a student who has been accepted into a far future academy and chooses to attend the university over the protests and prohibitions of her traditional and isolationist family. Being the first of her family from a rural area of Earth, itself described as something of a planetary backwater, to go to this school is difficult enough for Binti, but Okorafor then introduces a far more dangerous cultural conflict through which Binti must survive.Told with an intensity found more in the horror or thriller genres, this speculative fiction work blends elements of science fiction and fantasy into a very entertaining whole that is reminiscent of Octavia Butler or Ursula K. Le Guin. I also considered a comparison to China Mieville. Okorafor’s use of cultural distinctions, probably inspired from her Nigerian heritage, further separates this very unique novella from the pack of contemporary fiction.I have long heard her name and knew that I would need to explore her writing. Binti is likely only the first of Okorafor’s work I will enjoy.
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  • Nataliya
    January 1, 1970
    This is... cute, I guess. Imaginative. Fresh. But yet lacking so much of what makes a cohesive seamless narrative that I am indeed surprised to see that it won the Nebula Award. I hate to call this one childish for the one reason: good stories aimed at the youngsters should possess the wonderful level of imagination and complexity. And this one has all the foundations, so wonderfully laid out in its strong beginning, promising the strangeness of mathematical reasoning weaved together with the This is... cute, I guess. Imaginative. Fresh. But yet lacking so much of what makes a cohesive seamless narrative that I am indeed surprised to see that it won the Nebula Award. I hate to call this one childish for the one reason: good stories aimed at the youngsters should possess the wonderful level of imagination and complexity. And this one has all the foundations, so wonderfully laid out in its strong beginning, promising the strangeness of mathematical reasoning weaved together with the tribal culture rites. But, sadly, the promising start quickly disintegrates into a story that blithely speeds along to the conclusion it desires while ignoring character building, logic, and any resemblance to the actual complexity in the interpersonal (interspecies here, I guess?) relationships.I guess I must call this story, despite the imaginative and fresh initial premise, just simplistic and naive. Because this is how we wish the world would work: forgiving any murder or war and accepting your enemies once a miscommunication of sorts has been cleared (or magically covered with magical mud, if you so wish) and harmoniously living ever after in a wonderfully harmonious universe. And about that mass murder that was just shrugged off? Well, sorry, but now we are cool, I guess, and even participate in a sort of a student exchange program? Ugh.Acceptance does not work like this. It really does not. Sorry.Anyway, I'm not sure how this ended up getting such accolades. Okorafor has written much better stories but this is sadly lacking. But yes, cute.2.5 stars.
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  • carol.
    January 1, 1970
    Binti is a curious little novella by Okorafor, an author who has been my radar for bringing winds of Africa into science fiction and fantasy, and it does not disappoint. A sixteen-year old woman of the Himba tribe has been accepted into the prestigious Oomza University on a mathematics scholarship. The trouble is, “we Himba don’t travel. We stay put. Our ancestral land is life; move away from it and you diminish. We even cover our bodies with it… Here, in the launch port… I was an outsider; I Binti is a curious little novella by Okorafor, an author who has been my radar for bringing winds of Africa into science fiction and fantasy, and it does not disappoint. A sixteen-year old woman of the Himba tribe has been accepted into the prestigious Oomza University on a mathematics scholarship. The trouble is, “we Himba don’t travel. We stay put. Our ancestral land is life; move away from it and you diminish. We even cover our bodies with it… Here, in the launch port… I was an outsider; I was outside.“An auspicious, classic beginning, one that captures the uncertainty of an unusually talented woman stretching beyond her tightly knit culture to experience something larger. “No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really.” Okorafor deftly creates Binti’s character, bringing to mind the old days when I was seventeen and heading off across the country to college. Binti also faces all the prejudices that come from those unfamiliar with her culture. However, once she gets to the transport ship, she meets other young people also heading to the University and begins to find a kind of equilibrium and friendship. Until the Meduse come, five days before they are supposed to arrive at Uni.Once the alien Meduse attack, it evolves into first a survival story and then an alien outreach, with the plotting and writing less deft as the themes shift. Another incomprehensible alien artifact becomes a deux ex machina until rapport can be developed. Actually, I suppose that is very normal for the fantastical young adult-discovery tales; some magical object that gives them an unusual edge or specialness. In this case, I rather felt like it diminished the focus on Binti, who earlier was in the process of trying to recognize and honor her personal uniqueness.The ending didn’t quite work for me; I felt like it dismissed early losses for the ‘greater good,’ the satisfactory resolution of the idealistic ethical issue, and I’m not sure that was the message meant. More significantly, like Lagoon, I wondered if there was a bit too much attempted in such a limited format. There’s a galaxy of other beings, unknown alien artifacts, a future-Earth that has technologies unusual to our own, living ships, and then the very fascinating concept of mathematical harmonics. I would have thought either expanding more, so more organic integration of information could occur (ie, no pseudo-technology info-dumping), or limiting the scope would service the complexity of the story better.The overall verdict is that one should read it, if you are interested in diving into fresh voices in science fiction, and in stories where cultural and ethnic issues are woven into genre traditions. Okorafor is worth trying.Cross posted: https://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2016/...
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    I expected darkness to envelop me as I read this, but instead, I was introduced to a world that, as unwelcoming as it may seem, does actually understand human and alien suffering and is open to creating alliances with presumed enemies. Binti is gifted – so gifted that she was accepted to the Oomza University, the first of her community to study there. From the moment she steps foot outside of her home, she realizes how unwelcome and misunderstood her group (the Himba people) is.But she doesn’t I expected darkness to envelop me as I read this, but instead, I was introduced to a world that, as unwelcoming as it may seem, does actually understand human and alien suffering and is open to creating alliances with presumed enemies. Binti is gifted – so gifted that she was accepted to the Oomza University, the first of her community to study there. From the moment she steps foot outside of her home, she realizes how unwelcome and misunderstood her group (the Himba people) is.But she doesn’t let that affect her. What does affect her, quite quickly, is the Meduse, who can kill human beings in less than a second. When she comes in contact with them, she doesn’t expect to live till the end of the hour. So far it looks very intense, doesn’t it? And indeed it is, but it is the sort of intensity found in books that are written not to shock, spook or terrify, but to show that change can be achieved if one is courageous enough to attempt it, and Binti certainly is. Except, she’s also young. I don’t remember her age being mentioned, but I would assume she’s between 18 and 20. And it shows. She may be bold and smart, but she can also be overdramatic, silly and impertinent at times. Read this: ‘‘All you do is kill.’’ I opened my eyes. Energy that I didn’t know I still had rippled through me and I was so angry that I couldn’t catch my breath. ‘‘Like… like you…. Killed my friends!’’ I coughed and slumped down, weakly. ‘‘My friends,’’ I whispered, tears welling in my eyes. ‘‘Oooh, my friends!’’ Don’t you just really, really want to roll your eyes right now? I do. I’m incapable of reading that passage without shaking my head and directing my eyes skyward, because that’s the kind of passage I’m expecting to find in a soap opera, and this novella is not that. In conclusion, the story could have used some more editing, seeing that this does not read like it was written by a professional author. In fact, the author mentions her daughter helping her come up with the plot, and all I can think is, ‘‘How old is she??’’ But look, I do love a world filled with people that are able to put the past behind and accept the help of enemies, so this world is one I want to read more about. It is in no way perfect, but perhaps that’s what makes it interesting. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
    January 1, 1970
    This was one of the most creative books I've read in a while!Very interesting concepts but I wanted more... will definitely pick up the next one when it's out!
  • J.L. Sutton
    January 1, 1970
    Nnedi Okorafor's Binti is a beautifully written and engaging science fiction tale which, despite its length, has the feel of an epic. In the story, Binti leaves her tribe in Namibia to go off-planet to study at the Oomza Uni. Binti's people are obsessed with knowledge; however, they do not travel; they stay on their original homelands on Earth. Binti, bringing her people's culture with her into the galaxy, will prove to be a notable exception. Before they make it to Oomza Uni, though, their ship Nnedi Okorafor's Binti is a beautifully written and engaging science fiction tale which, despite its length, has the feel of an epic. In the story, Binti leaves her tribe in Namibia to go off-planet to study at the Oomza Uni. Binti's people are obsessed with knowledge; however, they do not travel; they stay on their original homelands on Earth. Binti, bringing her people's culture with her into the galaxy, will prove to be a notable exception. Before they make it to Oomza Uni, though, their ship is attacked and her shipmates are murdered by humanity's dread enemy, the Meduse. With this attack, things become even more interesting. My only real complaint from this novella is that I finished reading it too quickly. 4.5 stars.
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  • Imane
    January 1, 1970
    “But deep down inside me, I wanted . . . I needed it. I couldn’t help but act on it. The urge was so strong that it was mathematical.” ― Nnedi Okorafor, BintiI can't believe this won a Hugo and a Nebula award !! Apparently this is supposed to be a science fiction novella, offering a protagonist from an African background who is a genius at mathematics and who leaves her tribe to go to Oomza university on another planet. Unfortunately i found this book to be tiring and boring, the writing bland “But deep down inside me, I wanted . . . I needed it. I couldn’t help but act on it. The urge was so strong that it was mathematical.” ― Nnedi Okorafor, BintiI can't believe this won a Hugo and a Nebula award !! Apparently this is supposed to be a science fiction novella, offering a protagonist from an African background who is a genius at mathematics and who leaves her tribe to go to Oomza university on another planet. Unfortunately i found this book to be tiring and boring, the writing bland !! Also Binti wasn't some kind of a badass main character since all she did besides chatting with the enemy was talking about her "otjize", making "otjize" , applying "otjize" to her hair and trying to explain it's nature to other people throughout THE WHOLE FUCKING BOOK !!!
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  • Aneela ♒the_mystique_reader♒
    January 1, 1970
    I previously rated this book 4 stars but now that I think of it, its not worth 4 stars so I am removing 1 star.Binti is a Himba. She lives in a city and crafts astrolabes with her father. She got selected for the Oomza University that is on another planet. She is the first one to be selected from her tribe as well as her city. Her family is against her going to the university so she flee to the town in the dark of night. On her way to the other planet, their spaceship got attacked by the aliens. I previously rated this book 4 stars but now that I think of it, its not worth 4 stars so I am removing 1 star.Binti is a Himba. She lives in a city and crafts astrolabes with her father. She got selected for the Oomza University that is on another planet. She is the first one to be selected from her tribe as well as her city. Her family is against her going to the university so she flee to the town in the dark of night. On her way to the other planet, their spaceship got attacked by the aliens. Aliens with tentacles.....I loved the world-building. The description of how their spaceship is built and all that. However I managed to find few plot holes in the story. (view spoiler)[How did the folks from another planet managed to steal from the head of aliens if they were so fierce and have super powers. (hide spoiler)] So yeah, a little back story might have earned that 1 star. It is a light read though. There are no complicated characters, twists or turns that may clench your heart. I found it refreshing after finishing the pile of ARCs so any of you folks who are looking forward to read something to shake you up from reading slump, this book might help you.
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  • Philip
    January 1, 1970
    3ish stars. This is a 90-something page novella that tries to pack so much in that it ends up reading like the SparkNotes of a full novel. The worldbuilding is very cool. I especially like the idea of an organic animal-type spacecraft. And Binti's culture (which, upon reading the afterword, I found to be based on an actual group of people in Namibia) is awesome. It'd be cool to see more of this universe (the Oomzi University especially) and its various inhabitants, but that's not my main issue 3ish stars. This is a 90-something page novella that tries to pack so much in that it ends up reading like the SparkNotes of a full novel. The worldbuilding is very cool. I especially like the idea of an organic animal-type spacecraft. And Binti's culture (which, upon reading the afterword, I found to be based on an actual group of people in Namibia) is awesome. It'd be cool to see more of this universe (the Oomzi University especially) and its various inhabitants, but that's not my main issue with the length. Now, I'm a fan of the novella format. Some books work really well in that format, Every Heart a Doorway and Sunbolt being a couple of the recent ones I've read. And, let's be honest, sometimes I only have the patience to read a book that's 100 pages long. I'm even more lenient when the novella is part of a series as this one is so that subsequent books can provide some expansion. But it appears the next book in this series takes place a year in the future and follows a new plotline, essentially closing the case on the events that transpired in this book. Unfortunately, those events are the ones that need some expansion. The book pretty much follows this streamlined formula: 1) Event 1 takes place (view spoiler)[ I got accepted to a great university, but my family doesn't want me to go and my culture makes me an outsider. (hide spoiler)] 2) Event 2 takes place (view spoiler)[ I end up going and make some cool friends, here are their names. (hide spoiler)]3) Conflict 1 arises (view spoiler)[ Actually, you didn't really need to know their names, they're dead now. Some jellyfish aliens killed everyone on board my ship. (hide spoiler)]4) Conflict 2 arises (view spoiler)[ I'm trapped; aliens want to kill the entire human race because a human took their chief's stinger. Despite supposedly being highly intelligent beings, they've concocted a plan with very little hope of success to retrieve the stinger from the Uni using violent force and very little subtlety. (hide spoiler)]5) Conflict 1 is resolved by deus ex machina (view spoiler)[Turns out a random item I just so happened to find a few years ago just so happens to be the only thing that keeps me from befalling the same death as everyone else aboard. It also just so happens to give me the ability to communicate with the aliens. (hide spoiler)]6) Conflict 2 is resolved by deus ex machina (view spoiler)[Turns out the otjize my people make from oil and clay to cover their skin and hair with just so happens to heal the aliens making us insta-friends. (hide spoiler)]7) Conflict 3 arises (view spoiler)[Upon arriving at the Uni, we get an audience with the various leaders (me acting as diplomat with my new tentacle hair) and I explain to them that my alien friends slaughtered everyone on the ship so they could get their stinger back. (hide spoiler)]8) All conflict is resolved. (view spoiler)[Everyone's cool with it. (hide spoiler)]THE ENDThere's really nothing in between to (in my opinion, at least) allow for much tension or style. I don't really get why this wasn't expanded into a novel. It's good, but it could have been a lot better.https://mrphilipslibrary.wordpress.co...
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  • Sid
    January 1, 1970
    Stuck between 2.5 and 3, gave this novella a 3 eventually. It was an enjoyably good and quick read.The bravery of a 16 year old girl leaving everything for the sake of her curiosity of knowing further, her survival instinct, the eden and otjize; were the factors that pulled me in but lost me when there was a lack of strong character and story development around all these!The feelings grew and died immaturely and all jumbled upon each other!Though the details about the traditions and customs of Stuck between 2.5 and 3, gave this novella a 3 eventually. It was an enjoyably good and quick read.The bravery of a 16 year old girl leaving everything for the sake of her curiosity of knowing further, her survival instinct, the eden and otjize; were the factors that pulled me in but lost me when there was a lack of strong character and story development around all these!The feelings grew and died immaturely and all jumbled upon each other!Though the details about the traditions and customs of the protagonist's region and people attracted my attention and I found myself wanting to know more about them.For being a novella, the plot was simple but interesting. It could have been much more intriguing and adventurous if it had more twists and then brought to a specific conclusion. It seemed to be written in a hurry just to convey the story with many unaddressed issues and loose ends. It wasn't written impressively enough to hook the readers, so it didn't turn out to be a page turner for me! Although in my opinion, this plot had a huge potential if it was written patiently with knots tying all the minute details together. But if you're sitting idle and need a quick read of something with no judgement regarding writing style and things not coming a full circle, then this little book could serve you best as a good time pass!Moreover, it may be better appreciated by a younger audience!
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  • April (Aprilius Maximus)
    January 1, 1970
    1.) Binti 2.) Binti: Home 3.) The Night Masquerade .5--------------------------------------------------14/01/18 - Still love this so much!21/01/17 - I loved this! What an intriguing first installment! 1.) Binti ★★★★★2.) Binti: Home ★★★★3.) The Night Masquerade ★★★★.5--------------------------------------------------14/01/18 - Still love this so much!21/01/17 - I loved this! What an intriguing first installment!
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    I don't get the hype. Yes, culturally diverse - I like the main character and her background, but as an actual science fiction work, it's very weak.
  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    Starting off on my adventures with Binti, a mathematically brilliant, 16 year old member of the technically advanced but socially isolated Namibian Himba tribe. Binti decides -against massive family pressure - to accept a full-ride scholarship to the Oomza University on another planet. So she sneaks off in the dead of night, without telling her family. On the spaceship ride to Planet Oomza (or whatever its name is), disaster strikes, and Binti is forced to change and grow as a result.This Hugo Starting off on my adventures with Binti, a mathematically brilliant, 16 year old member of the technically advanced but socially isolated Namibian Himba tribe. Binti decides -against massive family pressure - to accept a full-ride scholarship to the Oomza University on another planet. So she sneaks off in the dead of night, without telling her family. On the spaceship ride to Planet Oomza (or whatever its name is), disaster strikes, and Binti is forced to change and grow as a result.This Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella has a serviceable SF plot (with several rather noticeable holes in it) but an amazing heroine that, for me, more than makes up for the plot’s weaknesses. She's unusual and complex and feels real to me. Nnedi Okorafor’s writing style is also appealing. Full review to come! I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review, as part of Binti: The Complete Trilogy.
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  • Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd a.k.a Mario
    January 1, 1970
    The world needs more revolutionary, progressive social Sci-Fi like that. The evolution of Sci-Fi, that was a long time a predominantly weirdhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol...genre leads to a much wider and more multicultural approach with settings of people of different cultures, traditions, mythologies, nations, civilizations and ideologies. For instance Buddhism and Asian mentality mixed with immortality, AI, resurrection, hive minds, etc. Or biopunk genre based on indigenous people The world needs more revolutionary, progressive social Sci-Fi like that. The evolution of Sci-Fi, that was a long time a predominantly weirdhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychol...genre leads to a much wider and more multicultural approach with settings of people of different cultures, traditions, mythologies, nations, civilizations and ideologies. For instance Buddhism and Asian mentality mixed with immortality, AI, resurrection, hive minds, etc. Or biopunk genre based on indigenous people living in rainforests and unexplored nature and wilderness all around the world. The whole Gaia mentality mixed with all kinds of emancipation, feminism and cultural rebellion. What unbelievable kind of social Sci-Fi may grow out of these new ways of telling a story with often overused tropes may be astonishing. No more old macho stereotypes with the evil aliens, mainly evil industries and mainly superficial social studies. Women are to a certain extent simply better at describing emotional und especially empathic characters and protagonist driven plots and Sci-Fi is the genre with the most possibilities to let the most amazing dreams come true, cause elements of fantasy, history and, of course, many sciences can be mixed in. Especially social sciences, be it relations between aliens and humans, different developing humans, robots or AIs and anyone. I have read hundreds, hopefully once in decades thousands, of Sci-Fi novels and got used to a nice, but quite kind of monotonous way of telling the story. First at the beginning, the genre was extremely egocentric, not to say, megalomaniac, as many of the old masters of the genre could be described as. The funny thing is that they used to describe utopias with old and mostly evil gender and race stereotypes, not recognizing that not just the tech, but humanity as a whole may evolve too and forgot to or didn´t want to mention it in their novels. After that came the more plot-driven steampunk, Spaceopera, Cyberpunk and Hard Sci-Fi genres with a mostly male protagonist. Now, finally, in the 21 century, more and more great stories, written by women, I would say to a certain extent not writeable by men, come to enrich the life of avid readers.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    Binti is a beautiful Sci-Fi story about a girl who leaves her family and their dreams for her behind, because she has much bigger dreams for herself. “We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.” This novella received quite a bit of hype at the end of last year, and I've been meaning to read it since it released, but after winning a Nebula and a Hugo I knew I couldn't let 2016 go by without reading it. Plus, look at that cover. I mean, it's honestly to die Binti is a beautiful Sci-Fi story about a girl who leaves her family and their dreams for her behind, because she has much bigger dreams for herself. “We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.” This novella received quite a bit of hype at the end of last year, and I've been meaning to read it since it released, but after winning a Nebula and a Hugo I knew I couldn't let 2016 go by without reading it. Plus, look at that cover. I mean, it's honestly to die for.Binti feels comfort with numbers and logic. She has been accepted not only to the best university in the world, but she has been accepted as the first Himba student. After escaping her desert home on Earth, where everything feels comfortable and she is highly praised as being the most intelligent member of her community, she finds herself among people who are very different than herself and most of those people openly give their opinions on their differences. Eventually she makes friends with her soon to be fellow students. Binti is one of five-hundred passengers on a ship headed to the university, until a jellyfish-like alien race called the Meduse board their ship without mercy.Binti finds herself in a very scary and unusual position where she has to take the customs of her people, the knowledge from her family, and her belief for her own future to be able to change the world forever. While reading this, I kept thinking about how wonderful this book would be for middle grade readers. Religious and cultural acceptance is a concept that is never too early to start teaching your children. There are so many beautiful references to different cultures that really puts a heavy emphasis on their importance. We take for granted the beauty behind the rituals and customs of different cultures, when we really should be celebrating them. Yet, the juxtaposition is equally as beautiful with the reminder that we are all free to try or to embrace a new culture without feeling shame, nor should we be exiled for turning our backs on the culture we were inherently born into if we were to venture out and try a new custom.Like I said, this book makes a huge statement about acceptance and how we can miscommunicate with others unintentionally. The message is truly beautiful, and it is no wonder this book has made such an impact and won so many awards; Binti truly is a beautiful message that more people need to hear.Tor is seriously publishing some amazing novellas lately, too. Binti and Every Heart a Doorway are both phenomenal, and I can't wait to read more of their stories, especially with the diversity that both of those novellas have inside of them. Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch
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  • Matthew Quann
    January 1, 1970
    Ten things to enjoy in Hugo & Nebula Award-winning Binti:1) A sci-fi tale that begins in the refreshingly unique setting of Namibia and ends at a space university.2) An endearing, strong, black, female lead. 3) A living, organic spaceship.4) Violence and combat, but staged in such a way that they never seem like reasonable solutions, only possible ones. 5) Jellyfish-like, Lovecraftian antagonists.6) An immersive, entertaining story that can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee (or, maybe, two).7) Ten things to enjoy in Hugo & Nebula Award-winning Binti:1) A sci-fi tale that begins in the refreshingly unique setting of Namibia and ends at a space university.2) An endearing, strong, black, female lead. 3) A living, organic spaceship.4) Violence and combat, but staged in such a way that they never seem like reasonable solutions, only possible ones. 5) Jellyfish-like, Lovecraftian antagonists.6) An immersive, entertaining story that can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee (or, maybe, two).7) Some really great writing that works well within the soft sci-fi concept (more focused on human experience of sci-fi rather than the sci-fi itself).8) Invigorating descriptions of hair. No, really! This is good hair.9) An allegory for the difficulties of communicating with someone from another culture, the dire consequences of these miscommunications, and the power of language and diplomacy.10) An enjoyable introduction to a projected trilogy of novellas. An easily digestible alternative to the immense trilogies for which the genre is famous.
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/11/14/r...When Tor.com first announced their line-up of novellas for 2015, Binti was probably one of the top three I was most excited about. Now I have to wonder if I went overboard and hyped myself up too much, because it turned out that I did not fall in love with this book like I had hoped I would. Now don’t get me wrong, because I enjoyed Binti. It’s a sweet little novella that captivated me and left me wanting more. Still, why 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/11/14/r...When Tor.com first announced their line-up of novellas for 2015, Binti was probably one of the top three I was most excited about. Now I have to wonder if I went overboard and hyped myself up too much, because it turned out that I did not fall in love with this book like I had hoped I would. Now don’t get me wrong, because I enjoyed Binti. It’s a sweet little novella that captivated me and left me wanting more. Still, why it left me wanting more is the key matter I want to discuss in my review.At its heart, Binti is a very human story about self-discovery and self-acceptance. It follows the eponymous protagonist, a young woman who is leaving home for the very first time. Her people the Himba are a very private society with a deep respect for tradition and culture, preferring to keep to themselves. Binti, however, has bigger plans. She applies for Oomza University and is accepted, becoming the first ever Himba to be offered a place at the school. Binti’s family and friends laughed at her, ridiculed her, cried and begged her not to go, but Binti would not be dissuaded. She secretly books passage for a space flight that would take her to the university, where she would embark on a journey to higher learning.On the way, however, her ship is attacked by members of an alien race called the Meduse. The Meduse hate humans, and they also hate the University for committing a grave crime against their chief. Binti is forced to watch in horror as all the new friends she made are ruthlessly slaughtered. Somehow, Binti herself manages to escape the massacre. She doesn’t know why she was spared, though she suspects the answer to that question and her only chance to survive might be found within her. She must stay alive until help can be reached, and to do that, she will have to open herself to an unlikely ally.As a protagonist, Binti is delightfully complex, being a heroine who straddles two worlds. Unlike the other members of her family, Binti has the desire to travel beyond the stars, and the moment she found out about Oomza University, it became her dream to one day study there. That said, she also has deep ties to the Himba, adhering to their many customs, like using the clay of her land on her skin and hair as part of a cleansing ritual, or following in her father’s footsteps to study and develop technology. Leaving home is never easy, and I admired Binti’s courage to face down the new and the unknown, even when she is met with ignorance from other travelers who have never encountered a Himba before and treat her differently—at best, like an oddity; at worst, like a savage.What’s interesting is that Binti’s own experience with the Meduse teaches her something about the way people view the world, revealing how one can become prejudiced when faced with prejudice against themselves. The theme of the story is about acceptance, of embracing your own identity and being proud of who you are, but also learning to respect others and sympathize with different points of view.If that sounds like a very straightforward message, that’s because it is. It’s a beautiful message, one I really liked, but at times I felt it was presented a bit too cleanly. And while I have nothing but good things to say about the world building and the establishment of the premise, when it came to the narrative itself, I felt the plot lacked substance. It’s fine, perhaps, if you view this as Binti’s personal journey. But as much as I enjoy a story with a message, I also prefer it when the latter is balanced with the former to make the experience more meaningful and convincing. I was fully engaged for most of this book, but felt the resolution was too rushed and roughly sketched, like the story just couldn’t wait to make its point.Like I said, I wanted more—mainly more meat on the bones of this story, and to a lesser extent, more emphasis given to Binti’s own skills and intelligence, because I also felt the ending was weak due to the heavy reliance on factors outside the protagonist’s sphere of control. Still, all in all I am glad I read this novella. It was a thought-provoking tale, and I’m blown away by Nnedi Okorafor’s talent for world building. I think it’s high time I picked up one of her novels because I think a fuller story would work better for me.
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  • Althea Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Read as part of the Hugo Voters' Packet.Enjoyable YA space adventure with an engaging protagonist. In this future, the Himba tribe of Namibia are an insular minority, looked down upon by the majority Khoush although the Himba have become specialized experts in math and 'harmonizing,' producing "astrolabes" (which seem to be the future's smartphones). Teenage Binti's skills have won her a coveted scholarship to an intergalactic university, but to her family, it is unthinkable that she would be Read as part of the Hugo Voters' Packet.Enjoyable YA space adventure with an engaging protagonist. In this future, the Himba tribe of Namibia are an insular minority, looked down upon by the majority Khoush although the Himba have become specialized experts in math and 'harmonizing,' producing "astrolabes" (which seem to be the future's smartphones). Teenage Binti's skills have won her a coveted scholarship to an intergalactic university, but to her family, it is unthinkable that she would be permitted to leave her tribe and go. Unwilling to let her dreams die, Binti runs away and soon finds herself on a ship en route to Oomza Uni. Unfortunately, that ship is hijacked by alien terrorists.Although the setup is both fun and fascinating, there were a few plot holes and the way things eventually worked out was too easy and simplistic, I thought. My issues with the story:(view spoiler)[ 1. Most significantly, I'm not saying that it is impossible to become best buddies with the terrorist who murdered your crush, all your new friends and classmates, and well, EVERYONE on the ship you're traveling on. But if that's going to happen, it needs to be a lot more carefully done. The psychological complexity and ambiguity of the situation needs to be acknowledged, at the very least, and it isn't here, at all.2. On a related note, although yes, the professors at the Uni did both the right and the sensible thing by acceding to the terrorists' demands, it seems inconceivable that none of them would mention the slaughter of a boatload of their colleagues, some of whom would undoubtedly have been close friends, lovers, family... No grief or anger at their loss is shown - only a bit of anger at demands being made. Overall, the mass murder is treated like a quickly-forgotten no-big-deal.3. Binti's skin treatment is revealed to be a cure-all to the alien Meduse race. Luckily, it turns out that the formula is not unique to Namibia; it can be produced elsewhere. However, no mention at all is made of the immediately obvious situation: if something you have is valuable to a warlike species, you and ALL OF YOUR PEOPLE are in deep danger. It never seems to occur to Binti that if she can't provide more of it, the Meduse would undoubtedly invade Namibia for it.4. In a story this short, there's room for a limited number of unexplained and logically unlikely thingummies. We start out with one, the mysterious 'edan' that Binti found in the desert and uses as a good luck charm. It sure is convenient, when she's attacked, that her good luck charm turns out to be a mentally-powered force shield AND translation device! But, seeing as there wouldn't be much of a story if it wasn't, I can accept that. All the Meduse are appropriately shocked that she can suddenly communicate with them. However, that's kind of negated when later, it turns out that communication can ALSO be facilitated by a quick 'sting' that's actually some kind of DNA/blood transfusion... I think that having either the 'sting' or the 'edan' as a plot device, but not both, would've made the story stronger.5. As one last minor point, I would've liked more on what 'harmonizing' is and how a math/engineering-related skill translates into negotiation skills. But that's mostly just because Binti's professional thought processes are interesting. I wanted to find out more about the 'astrolabes' she makes, too! (hide spoiler)]
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  • Markus
    January 1, 1970
    “No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really. I looked around and immediately knew what to do next.” Awards are not to be trusted.Sometimes they get it right by accident, but for the most part the assessment criteria seem to have little to do with the quality of the work. Binti tells the story of the girl Binti (surprise!) of the Himba people, primitive isolationists who are desperately reluctant to hinder her, a prodigy among them, to leave their reclusive “No matter what choice I made, I was never going to have a normal life, really. I looked around and immediately knew what to do next.” Awards are not to be trusted.Sometimes they get it right by accident, but for the most part the assessment criteria seem to have little to do with the quality of the work. Binti tells the story of the girl Binti (surprise!) of the Himba people, primitive isolationists who are desperately reluctant to hinder her, a prodigy among them, to leave their reclusive society in order to attend space university. She does anyway, running away from her family, there are some extremely dangerous complications that she’s able to very easily solve because... she’s the protagonist, aaaand... the end.Binti is a novella not without its merits, but certainly not with any particular originality. Neither in the young protagonist from a disenfranchised primitive isolationist culture who's the first to partake in a prestigious institution. Nor in the exploration of culture clash between humans and aliens. These issues have been dealt with again and again by many works of fiction, often far more skilfully than in Binti. Then there is the juvenile writing style (which, admittedly, makes sense with the first person narrative of a teenage protagonist) and the deus ex machina and the plot holes defying all logic and rules of writing. Is this the mythical originality I've heard about, mayhap? At its core, Binti alternates between doing too much and too little, inevitably the curse of such a short novella. It can be read as a decent little story, that is neither thought-provoking nor intellectually stimulating, but for the right people (not me) I am sure can be quite fun. I personally thought it was boring and lazily written too, but that's just personal taste. However, I am not entirely uninterested in Okorafors work, and will be on the lookout for more of her writing in the future. Hopefully it proves a lot more of a positive experience.
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    Great novela by the author of Who Fears Death, Binti tells the story of a brilliant, brave young girl who risks everything to go to college, including her family, home and even her life.
  • Jean Menzies
    January 1, 1970
    Review originally published on my blog: https://morejeansthoughts.wordpress.c...This book blew me away with the emotional impact it was able to have in less than one hundred pages. A novella as opposed to a full-length novel this book is the first in a series, of which two more are already available (and I’m half way through number two). It follows our protagonist Binti, a member of the Himba people who are one of multiple cultures that live on Earth. The Himba tend to remain in their own Review originally published on my blog: https://morejeansthoughts.wordpress.c...This book blew me away with the emotional impact it was able to have in less than one hundred pages. A novella as opposed to a full-length novel this book is the first in a series, of which two more are already available (and I’m half way through number two). It follows our protagonist Binti, a member of the Himba people who are one of multiple cultures that live on Earth. The Himba tend to remain in their own community and never do they leave Earth. Binti, however, is the first of her people to have been offered a place at Oomza University, situated on a planet other than her own, and she is not about to turn it down.This is where our story begins: Binti leaving home silently in the early morning to travel through space and attend Oomza University. The next few pages are packed full of action; nothing unfurls as you may perhaps have expected from the offset of the novella. For a story confined to less than one hundred pages it is impossible to be disappointed by the sheer degree of content, character exploration and sci-fi goodness. The length does, however, restrict the author’s ability to provide detailed world building behind the science in this futuristic setting and how far perhaps the universe has come since today.This is one where readers need to be willing to entirely suspend their disbelief and enter into Binti’s world with whole-hearted acceptance. Of course, this is only possible when the author has spent time and energy carefully constructing the world that is there. Although you may not be provided with pages explaining the process of each piece of science or human development contained within the novella’s pages, there is little question that everything fits together seamlessly and has a reason even if there is only a short time to dwell on it.The character of Binti herself is the focus of this story; she provides an anchor for any reader in a world floating around in the unknown. We follow her pursuit of what she wants whilst struggling to let go of what others expect of her. We watch as she attempts to find the balance between her culture and her decision to go against what is the norm for her people. She is a multifaceted character who is able to assert herself as all of these aspects of her personhood and she will not let others dismiss her.Whether you are a die-hard science fiction reader or a newbie to the genre Binti, is to me, one worth checking out. Following Binti’s journey in Binti was emotional and encapsulating and luckily enough for all of us there are two more books in the series where Binti’s story can continue (and both are longer than the first so that’s a bonus). I’ll confess I have already read the sequel Binti: Home, which I loved equally, and will be starting the third and final book Binti: The Night Masquerade ASAP.
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  • Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net
    January 1, 1970
    I expected more from this. There's some important themes about acceptance and colonialism addressed in here, for sure, but the execution is what I found most lacking. As a novella, it works in that there's a clear beginning, middle and end. There's certainly plot movement as Binti leaves her homeland for an entirely new world and the prospect of education - an opportunity never given to the children of her people. The strongest part of the novel is certainly the beginning, as Binti's cultural I expected more from this. There's some important themes about acceptance and colonialism addressed in here, for sure, but the execution is what I found most lacking. As a novella, it works in that there's a clear beginning, middle and end. There's certainly plot movement as Binti leaves her homeland for an entirely new world and the prospect of education - an opportunity never given to the children of her people. The strongest part of the novel is certainly the beginning, as Binti's cultural heritage and traditions were the aspect of the story I found the most compelling, and the most strongly developed. The rest of the story lacks the impact and finish I've come to look for in works of fiction that I end up loving. It doesn't help that I'm reading a really well-written novel right now, because in comparison the prose in this fell extremely flat. It's all too cut and dry telling, over showing. "I went here. I saw this thing do this action. I picked up the edan." Okay, the first two examples I made up, but the third certainly happens. All the prose reads this way. There's no punch to it, and frankly, I was a little bored. This is not touching on the fact that what themes there are about acceptance and overcoming differences just aren't incorporated well. This is advertised as a Science Fiction novella, but it reads like middle-grade or the lower spectrum of Young Adult. The ending of this entry was far too neat and tidy, especially considering the atrocities committed by certain characters in the story that are quite literally hand-waved away by Binti's intervention and a heartwarming speech. Like I said, I expected more - but it was okay. Unfortunately I don't think this generated enough interest for me to continue.
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  • Thomas Wagner
    January 1, 1970
    Those of you who know me know how ridiculously hard it is to get a 5-star rating out of me. But this is master-class SF storytelling. Some novellas you read and think, "I wish this had been a novel." Some you read and think, "It's a bloated short story." Binti is quite possibly as close to perfect as it could have been, at its exact length. Full-length review coming.
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  • Riley
    January 1, 1970
    This was amazing! I need more. The way that Nnedi constructed this world so beautifully in so few pages. I was hooked right away and can't wait to see what the next part brings
  • Bea
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't really enjoy this. It seemed a bit all over the place and the amount of times the word otjize was said in every section really bothered me by making it repetitive. There was a part of the story where the main character talks about having equations going through her mind to be able to make a complex and satisfying choice like something no one has ever done before... and then the author puts a^+b^=c^. Pythagoras. Something you learn in year6 when you're 11. She's meant to be a genius I didn't really enjoy this. It seemed a bit all over the place and the amount of times the word otjize was said in every section really bothered me by making it repetitive. There was a part of the story where the main character talks about having equations going through her mind to be able to make a complex and satisfying choice like something no one has ever done before... and then the author puts a^+b^=c^. Pythagoras. Something you learn in year6 when you're 11. She's meant to be a genius mathematician! Overall, fairly disappointing and I will not be carrying on with the series.2 disappointing stars.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    It’s me, not Okorafor. Imagined worlds hold no magic for me.
  • Ioana
    January 1, 1970
    ⌈4.1⌉* *⌈the ceiling function rounds up to the nearest integer⌉ How I wish I had been reading books like Binti growing up instead of Nancy Drew ! While the latter firmly serves to reinforce all stereotypes known to humanity (blonde = beautiful perfection; brunette = chubby side-kick; non-white = ….. [non-existent]; materialism = rah, rah! etc and so on)- Binti unapologetically forges her own path, seeks her own meaning, explodes structural barriers sustained by history for generations: she is, ⌈4.1⌉* *⌈the ceiling function rounds up to the nearest integer⌉ How I wish I had been reading books like Binti growing up instead of Nancy Drew ! While the latter firmly serves to reinforce all stereotypes known to humanity (blonde = beautiful perfection; brunette = chubby side-kick; non-white = ….. [non-existent]; materialism = rah, rah! etc and so on)- Binti unapologetically forges her own path, seeks her own meaning, explodes structural barriers sustained by history for generations: she is, in other words, one fully badass feminist heroine I’d want my (hypothetical) young daughter emulating.This slim 2015 Nebula-award winning novella, follows Binti, a young woman from the Himba tribe on Earth, who, against all odds, recommendations, and traditions, is accepted to Oomza University, the most prestigious in the galaxy (on another planet). This is just the beginning of her story (the first in a new series): an introduction to the Himba and Khoush people, the Meduse (a seemingly hostile, non-human race), as well as Binti’s spaceship travel to and arrival at Oomza Uni. The Himbas are a spiritual tribe, intimately connected to their land/place of origin. Their primary occupation is that of “harmonizers” – crafters of astorables for all Earthly races (an astorable is a smart-device that can do pretty much anything, by tapping into the mathematical ‘waves’ of the world). Himbas rarely leave their land, in fact they wear the clay of their home on their skin and hair (in a paste, otjize, featured on the cover), so Binti’s desire to attend Oomza Uni breaks all precedent. On her journey, Binti forges relationships with both Meduse and with the Khoush people (The Koush are metropolitan dwellers, an affluent race of pale skinned humans that uses the Himbas-everyone needs an astorable!—but does not usually deign to interact or forge relationships with them). She bravely and with youthful sincerity and non-duplicity seeks to understand all those whom she encounters, and uses her harmonizing skills to heal relationships and resolve strife, even violent situations. This is all while being the sole Himba on the spaceship and at Oomza, without the support of family or, at first, fiends.As other reviewers have written, the science in Binti is not articulated at length, and seems light at times, maybe an afterthought. As a math teacher, well, I definitely wasn’t feeling the “mathematical waves” that Binti tapped into as a harmonizer (but there certainly are physical waves permeating everything, and if you believe string theory, all is constituted of tiny vibrating strings…) So, true, this is not ‘hard’ science-fiction, BUT, these are my two rationalizations for upping the rating to 5 anyway:(1) This book is for very young people; it could be read as early as 2nd grade, and even though I would have still enjoyed it in high-school, and read it as an adult, I’m not going to dock off points for the science not being fully worked out as it would be in an adult or even YA novel.(2) For its intended audience, this is absolutely the most brilliant exploration of race, gender, identity, belonging, social-justice, peace-as-a-solution, and so many more crucial topics I have ever read.
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    When I first read Binti in 2017, I enjoyed it fine, but I don’t think I understood it as being particularly radical. Reading it again in 2019, after reading far more fantasy and science fiction (and a significant amount of postcolonial literature), I think I got a lot more from these 85 pages. Binti is a young black woman on her way to the premier institution in the galaxy; her people, unlike their sometime-rivals sometime-allies the Kush, almost never leave. She has broken this tradition (an When I first read Binti in 2017, I enjoyed it fine, but I don’t think I understood it as being particularly radical. Reading it again in 2019, after reading far more fantasy and science fiction (and a significant amount of postcolonial literature), I think I got a lot more from these 85 pages. Binti is a young black woman on her way to the premier institution in the galaxy; her people, unlike their sometime-rivals sometime-allies the Kush, almost never leave. She has broken this tradition (an absolute first-generation college student) through being extremely smart, and she has done something perhaps more revolutionary: she has chosen to take her chance and leave home. Though her parents love her, they don’t approve of her choosing to go somewhere where she will not continue their traditions. She knows from the time she leaves that she may very well be disowned. She herself isn’t entirely confident either; she self-doubts multiple times in the first twenty pages, despite her joy. On her journey to her new university, however, her ship is attacked by a race known as the Meduse. These creatures are murderous, of course, but Binti, and the audience, eventually learn to look at them with empathy. Their stinger has been stolen and placed in a Kush museum, in something akin to the colonial appropriation perpetuated by the British museum today. The Meduse have been violated, and thus they want to recapture and reclaim their lost territory.The growth of the friendship between Okwu and Binti is at the center of Binti — and the ensuing novella series, though to a lesser degree — and though it forms due to necessity, the strength of this relationship comes in their mutual understandings of each other. Their hair, like her hair, is considered alien; their bodies, like hers, are considered other. Binti’s journey, however, is what is most revolutionary about this book. Instead of following traditions, she breaks boundaries; she has a place in the universe, and yet she steps out into a whole new world. In a subversion of the typical outsider-leaves-to-find-themselves narrative, she is not in any particular way an outsider to her initial community; she is simply brilliant and quietly ambitious and brave enough to risk all she has ever known for a future she hopes will be for her. Throughout the story, as a harmonizer, she must symbolically give up pieces of her old identity, yet she keeps her old rituals as a part of herself. Her strength comes in her ability to embrace both her old identity and her new identity and build herself into a whole person, stronger than ever. A black woman, and a young black woman, is front and center, and she is front and center because of her inner strength and her empathy. And that's just really neat. I really struggled to be engaged with this the first time around, something that I attributed to "not liking novellas," which I thought I "struggled to be engaged in before the end". I am no longer a boring sad person who hates everything she doesn't get (I was 16, let me live) and I now love novellas. However, this problem of lacking engagement persists, and it is because of the lack of description. I love this world — the ideas of sentient ships and Oomza Uni both slap so hard — but I don't feel like I have any perception of what it looks like. I believe this must have been a purposeful decision for symbolic reasons, because it feels... very conscious. However, I did really like this on reread. Score one for the team!Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |
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