Binti: Home: Adds complexity to a wonderful character

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Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor fantasy book reviewsBinti: Home by Nnedi OkoraforBinti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

In Binti: Home (2017), the follow-up novella to her very successful novella Binti, Nnedi Okorafor takes us back to Earth, to show us Binti’s reunion with family and discovery of hidden aspects of her heritage.

After the massacre that preceded her arrival at Oomza University, Binti is struggling to relate to other students at university or even focus on the advanced mathematics coursework she was so excited about. Although she remains close to Okwu, the Meduse she befriended and vouched for after the massacre in Binti, Binti finds herself angry with the Meduse — and with life — at times. These mood swings vie against her role as harmonizer, so, in order to understand and possibly control them, she decides to visit home. Her visit, however, means facing the family she left behind and aspects of her history she hasn’t confronted. And, since Okwu decides to join her as the first Meduse to ever visit Earth, Binti must also mediate between humanity and the Meduse.

My favorite part of this novella was Binti’s time with her family and her pilgrimage into the desert. This is where she learns more about the edan, the magical artifact that saved her life in Binti, and about her role to play in things to come.

Binti Series by Nnedi OkoraforI loved how Binti: Home complicated some aspects of Okorafor’s worldbuilding. Binti’s people, the Himba, are marginalized, but their oppression doesn’t mean they don’t have their own prejudices towards outsiders or their own methods of ostracism within the tribe. Binti herself becomes more complex. Before, she was a kind, determined, good-hearted kid; she is still those things here, but they are layered with her struggle with PTSD after the massacre. In some ways, this Binti — and the world she inhabits — is more realistic. There’s more grey area here, and I like that.

I do wish we’d had more time at Oomza University. Binti’s departure at the beginning felt rushed. I’m a nerd for magical school settings and wanted to luxuriate in the details of this particular science-fictional university. If that setting doesn’t fit into the story Okorafor is telling here, however, I will hope to see it someday with another character or narrative.

The other things that bothered me — namely, the cliffhanger ending — were largely symptoms of this being the middle volume in a trilogy and will be, hopefully, resolved in the third and final book, The Night Masquerade, which is due out in January 2018.

Published January 31, 2017. The thrilling sequel to the Hugo and Nebula-winning Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places. And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders. But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace. After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

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KATE LECHLER, with us since May 2014, resides in Oxford, MS, where she divides her time between teaching early British literature at the University of Mississippi, writing fiction, and throwing the tennis ball for her insatiable terrier, Sam. She loves speculative fiction because of what it tells us about our past, present, and future. She particularly enjoys re-imagined fairy tales and myths, fabulism, magical realism, urban fantasy, and the New Weird. Just as in real life, she has no time for melodramatic protagonists with no sense of humor. The movie she quotes most often is Jurassic Park, and the TV show she obsessively re-watches (much to the chagrin of her husband) is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her personal blog is The Rediscovered Country and she tweets @katelechler.

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