Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
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 is a human of the Himba community. The Himba never leave their homeland; they never leave Earth. So when Binti is accepted into the Oomza University - the finest institution for high learning is all of the Galaxy-, her family is dead against it. Her sisters are scornful of it, her brothers dismissive and her parents have plain chosen to ignore it. Her best friend congratulates her but even he tells her to not go. Despite her mixed feelings, Binti finally desides to run away from home and attend the University.

The moment Binti steps outside the familiar comfort of her family and her village she realizes that the customs and culture of her people that she holds in high regard are seen as backward and savage by others. Her bushy hair and her habit of spreading “otjize,” a mix of red clay and oils from flowers on herself is openly criticized and made fun of by others. Throughout the story, Binti due to her being 'different' feels like an outsider.

Binti's character development is well written and well established despite the length of the story being quite short.

Binti's travel across the galaxy is eventful. when the ship is attacked by a jellyfish-like people called the Meduse, her future is thrown onto an unpredictable and shaky course. This causes her to make many scary and difficult decisions which forms a great part of the story.

Despite the wonderful world building, and even more wonderful cultural representation, I felt the plot was lacking substance. The message of the story is clear- acceptance, harmony and peace is so much more better than violence. but I'm not sure how much I enjoyed the way it was executed.

The plot was built up quite wonderfully in the beginning but ended quite blandly. The ending felt a little too unbelievable and rushed and many of my serious questions went unanswered. I believe the plot could have been executed a little differently.

Like I said before, the world building is wonderful. There is enough substance in the world for Binti to be transformed into a complete novel. I enjoyed the vivid description of the world the author has created. It was particularly interesting to learn about the customs of the Himba people from Binti's thoughts. Her fears and feelings were brought out quite beautifully.

- Binti
- The diversity
- The writing
- The world building

- The plot at quite a few places

Binti is a well written diverse science fiction/ fantasy novella that has a lot of potential. While i found the plot lacking, the extensive world building, writing style and cultural diversity almost make up for it.





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