Book Reviews

Review: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti, first uniter of the Meduse and Humans in tentative peace, first of the Himba tribe to be accepted into the Oomza University far from Earth, has now been at university for a year in this follow-up to Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti titled Binti: Home. And it feels like a seamless transition from the first novella to this sequel, also a novella.

As a continuation of the first story, albeit a year later, we get to see the growth that Binti has made in her studies at university and that she maintains a relationship with not only the Khoush and the Meduse, but also longs to go home. As she’s able to with a Meduse, she is able to act as the bridge between it, as the first Meduse peaceful ambassador to Earth, and humans–specifically her tribe.

As much as leaving changed her in ways that she couldn’t imagine, so does going home. She is confronted by family and friends who judge her for leaving, for changing, and blame her for things she could not reasonably be blamed for. Feeling outcast yet again, she ends up going on a journey again – this time, she expects normal life as one of womanhood, but it turns out so very different than she anticipated.

She’s the one who has changed the most and we don’t see her family at all in the first novella, so we only see how they respond to her having changed so much. It’s a powerful way to show how much she is going against the grain with her family and her tribe, and how they are developed enough to respond fearfully, with distinctly human and secluded human reactions. The pain she feels is real; we are also exposed to some flashbacks that develop our understanding of how she ended up down the path she is heading, how she is different than what her father expected, how she’s had to give up so much (as her father has given up his dreams for her) to become who she is intended to be.

The exposition provided is stunning. Characters are not only well-developed, but so is the setting, the reactions everyone has, the events, and the pacing that engages the reader from beginning to end. At 168 pages, it could take fewer than two hours to complete it, but it feels like so much less and leaves us wanting for more. Binti is a very real and realized person on her journey to become more her and each journey she goes on helps immensely with that.

This story left on a pretty big cliffhanger and the next one, The Binti Masquerade, doesn’t come out until January 2018. I’ve got it on pre-order and can’t wait to review it!  This series is definitely at least a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Also, relevant news for those who enjoy tv and movie adaptations of books, Okorafor announced the morning of July 10th, that her novel, Who Fears Death, has been contracted with HBO to be turned into a tv series.