Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Binti, book 1
Publisher: Publisher (date)
ebook, 96 pages
Science Fiction, YA, Novella
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.
Binti is definitely not introductory level sci-fi. I feel like you’ve got to have read some of the genre for a bit to understand how truly great it is. At only 96 pages the book is a bit of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, but I think the sort of stripped down simplicity is part of its charm.
The world Nnedi Okorafor has built is so interesting. Binti is from the Himba people in a desert region on Earth where there is very little water, and they cover themselves in a mixture of sacred red clay and oils. There are a lot of parellels to the present day in how Binti and her people are treated (let me tell you I GASPED when that Koush woman touched Binti’s hair) and also in how the Meduse are treated.
I did have some problem with some of what happens in the very end of the book – it felt rather abrupt and like maybe it could have benefited from being a bit longer so some more time could be devoted to fleshing it out.
The way mathematics is described in this book is just gorgeous. Binti is a harmonizer and is able to manipulate mathematics as a sort of tangible energy. There are other elements that just wowed me – the code braided into her hair, the living ship that is a relative to shrimp – and this entire book is just breathtaking. This is only the second book I’ve read by Nnedi Okorafor, but you’d better believe I’ll be reading more, including the other novellas in this series.