Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Genre: Novella, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction Series: Complete Collection
Dropped into the middle of an ongoing war between two peoples, you meet Binti who uses her heritage and mathematical skills to survive. This book is for those who love entirely new worlds where the only similarity to our own is the fact that Binti’s home world is a future Earth. With new and old ideas of culture, Okorafor developed a theme of old African beliefs and paired it with a new universe to create a complex world full of different creatures and abilities that complicate Binti’s not-so-simple life. But unfortunately, I did leave the book wishing I had learned more. There was a severe lack in information about everything introduced in this story which made it feel incomplete.
In-Depth Review (contains spoilers)
Binti is too special. She is a master harmonizer along with having a version of her mother’s mathematical sight gift. She is the only Himba to ever be accepted to Oozma Uni. She ends up surviving the Meduse moojh-ha ki-bira (great wave) and becomes part Meduse herself. Of course, there is a short moment where she may suffer from trauma from these events, but it is short-lived and never addressed again as if she had completely moved on. She had found the edan and was able to use, and eventually, open it. She even ends up discovering her Enyi Zinariya ancestry, gains access to the Collective, and becomes the only person able to really bring the Meduse and Khoush together for peace. And then, of course, she dies and comes back tethered to a giant fish ship. She is too special. Binti has negative events that occur against her, but they always turn out in her favor. This is incredibly unrealistic even in a fantasy world and makes her frustrating to relate to.
My favorite part of the entire book had to be Binti harmonizing a peace between the Meduse and Khoush. That was the harmonizing ability that I had been excited and hoping for but rarely ever showed. I pictured her losing her temper over the two beings and then brought the rumbles and flashes of light to put fear into them. After seeing her sudden abilities, they were willing to listen. Which again, is the harmonizing that I was missing.
The final quarter of the book had me confused. Suddenly, she learns of this Enyi Zinariya heritage that really doesn’t play any important role other than to scare her into believing her family dies. Then she ends up dying herself which I was so angry over. I could not stand her being dead after so much that she somehow survived. And the bit where it changed POVs drove me insane. We are in Binti’s head for so long and then suddenly forced to be in someone else’s. That did not make sense. And then she comes back and somehow does not suffer from really any post-traumatic stress disorders. Plus, the edan is supposedly just there to find a recommendation? That annoyed me so much.
There was one bit at the very end that I was so lost for. The nurse who was examining Binti and suddenly started talking about pregnancy and Okwu being pregnant. What was that about? That was just dropped in there with no warning or prep for it. I do not understand why that was even brought up even though Binti is still a child herself and had her studies in front of her. Not a baby. For a moment I thought the lady was telling her that she was going to be having a baby instead of just talking about the possibility which confused me even more.
The biggest problem I had overall, was the follow through with the concepts. The world building and details of the cultures were incredible, but I was always wanting more. The complexity of the world was lacking. I wanted more information on Oozma Uni and wanted to learn more about Third Fish and her child New Fish. With the confusing and missing information, I just wanted to learn even more about everything that was introduced in this world.
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