March 25, 2019 by TinyNavajo
Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
♦ ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊
*Published September 22, 2015*
My library’s website does a thing each month on its catalogue, where it features a certain theme for that month. Last month, it was Black History Month, and the book river was featuring Black authors and I saw Binti and it’s blurb caught my attention. I placed a hold on the first book and read it and placed a hold on the next two right away. So good!
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.
First things first, Binti is a small novel/novella. I was not quite expecting that when it arrived at my library, so I wasn’t sure what kind of story would be told in that short of a time. But as I was reading through, I was drawn into the story of a Himba girl leaving her home, her family, and her planet for the very first time. Now, I have very briefly studied the Himba and Himba culture in college, as my Anthropology 101 professor who I also TAed for, studies Himba culture and he used his studies in his teaching. So, I’m glad for that as I was able to better understand some of what was going on, but Nnedi Okorafor also explains Himba culture in such a way so it is not a deterrent to reading this book.
What I love most about this book though is that even though it seems to go quickly and deals with a lot of math (yes, there is math), the story doesn’t feel like it’s been pushed to the side. It all makes sense, and I love that we are in Binti’s head. We understand why she leaves but we also understand why she lets the Meduse change her in such a way to help them.
The only minor, extremely minor gripe I have about this book is that it is almost too short. But, I also believe that if it were longer, I would not like it as much as I do. The shortness of the story is why I gave it only three stars, but that’s the only reason. I just wanted more and I then got more with the next two books.
What do you guys think of short stories? Do you like them? Do you wish they were longer? Why or why not? Comment below and let me know!