Whenever I do a call for I need new books to read, inevitably Nnedi Okorafor is mentioned. However, I had read Book of the Phoenix before and found it really mixed. I found the main character annoying and inconsistent.
But anyway, Binti was always recommended and so I gave it a go. And I’m glad I did! It’s a really interesting little novella. Like the Murderbot Diaries there is a very specific focus in the Novella and it doesn’t stray too far from that.
The story revolves around Binti, a teenager from a tribe which keeps to itself and members tend not to travel. However, Binti gets accepted to a prestigious university and against tradition leaves her home.
Things don’t go to plan as en route she encounters a race of beings that kill everyone in its path. But because of her abilities and an ancient piece of technology, she’s able to communicate with these beings and prevent something terrible from happening.
I enjoyed all the descriptions of Binti’s culture, about her traditional practices and way of life. However, that’s also combined with huge mathematical talent, skewing the idea of what is ‘traditional’. I like how she as a character decides to make this big leap but despite being brave, she is also incredibly scared sometimes. That continues with her interactions with the Meduse (the aforementioned murderous alien race) – with Binti being incredibly brave but also terrified she’s going to be killed.
I also like the Meduse, they seem weird and alien. They aren’t humanoid at all (I think the description is jellyfish like) and at first seem unfathomable. However, despite beginning to understand them, they still retain their alienness.
Anyway, not much to add, other than it was totally great! I ready it in one sitting (it was only 90 pages). I will totally pick up the sequels. I wish I had read this before Book of the Phoenix!