Almost every time I browse diverse book lists or lists of great science fiction books, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti comes up. To be fair, the cover is pretty eye-catching (and gorgeous), but I still feel like I see this book everywhere and it looked amazing. Plus, I will read basically anything that’s been blurbed by Neil Gaiman. I’ve been in a sci-fi mood lately, looking to read more diverse books, and Book Outlet had the first two Binti books. I think we all know exactly what happened there. And I have zero regrets.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) 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.
This book was SO GOOD. I don’t think I’ve ever read a science fiction book this short (it’s only 90 pages), but it was just as mind-blowing and complex as some 600+ page novels I’ve read. Just really well-done. I loved that it was clearly sci-fi – there’s a lot of really cool technology mentioned – but it was more about different species connecting and accepting one another. I’m amazed at how much information fit into this book, none of which felt extraneous; Okorafor is clearly an incredibly talented writer.
I especially enjoyed the world this book is set in, and how it is built. We are only told what we, as readers, need to know, but it is still such a rich world filled with many different intelligent species and cultures. Obviously, we learn the most about Binti’s culture, which is very natural and beautiful, especially juxtaposed against a technology-heavy story set in space. But I also liked the glimpses we get of other cultures, particularly the Meduse. Each culture is equally fascinating, and conflict is mainly the result of misunderstanding – I truly loved this message, and enjoyed how well Okorafor captures human nature in a story where few of the characters are actually human.
★★★★★ – I think it’s fairly obvious that I loved Binti. It is a brilliant science fiction novel. If you only have an hour or two to read, this is he perfect book to pick up – it is short but exceptionally well crafted. I am really looking forward to continuing this series!
Binti is available in bookstores now – (currently under $7 on Amazon!).
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Binti as one of your two free books.
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