It’s more than impressive when a novelist can create something deeply meaningful with little words. This 100-page novella is moving and memorable–its story and message simultaneously edgy, modern, and as old as time.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a story about a girl who leaves home to go to university, only to have her ship overrun by murdering pirates on a revenge mission. Binti must use her smarts and instincts to save herself, and as she does, she learns and understands the people who threaten her as well as her abilities that are tied to her identity and the family she ran away from.
The setting is on Earth, in space, and in the future, but the themes represented in this powerful novella are timeless and timely. Binti is a story about exploration. It’s a story abut our identity that is tied to our culture. It shows the struggles we face when we wander from home and encounter different cultures and people and we try to rectify what we know, how we’ve been raised, with other people’s identities and beliefs.
Do we clutch our beliefs and reject others? Do we assimilate and lose who we are? Is there a happy middle? Binti the novel and Binti the woman are both beautiful and endearing, and I love both. Nnedi Okorafor is a brilliant storyteller who weaves an engaging tale with effortless and impressive writing–my only gripe being that there wasn’t more Binti. But, wait, there is more.
Audiobook notes: Binti is narrated by Robin Miles, a voice I recognized immediately, even before realizing from where. Robin Miles also narrates The Fifth Season, and just like with that book, her reading and acting is outstanding. She does a wonderful job with Binti, showcasing a range of emotions, but she is even more impressive with the Meduse aliens. I listened at a 1.25 speed and was fully engaged the whole way through. I loved it, and I definitely recommend.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Binti #1
Genres: Speculative Fiction
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.