Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
We prefer to explore the universe by travelling inward, as opposed to outward.
Binti is a curious science-fiction novella, presenting themes on leaving home, what it means to hold onto tradition, and how that affects you when adaptation becomes a necessity. The eponymous Binti, a sixteen-year-old mathematical genius, was born and raised a Himba in a small reclusive village in Namibia. She builds and "harmonizes" astrolabes, which are like a combination passport, cellphone, and lifetime resume. Her skills make her extremely valuable to both her tribe and the surrounding Khoush people. The Khoush is a fictional non-white race of humans who think little of the dark-skinned Himba, even though they depend on the advanced technological prowess and intellect of their Himba neighbors.
The story begins with Binti escaping her homeland in secret, intending to leave Earth to attend Oomza Uni, an advance university on a planet far away. Binti was offered a full scholarship to attend, but her family and friends laughed it off, as the Himba rarely ever leave their own small piece of land. But Binti has bigger dreams and sets her mind on leaving Earth to fulfill her potential. She discovers that there is only a 5% human population on this university planet, so Binti will have to interact with creatures and species that she knows little about.
Although Binti quickly leaves her family and friends behind, she cannot part with some Himba traditions. One ritual she practices is the constant application of otjize on her skin and hair. Otjize is made by mixing red clay from the soil of her village with oil from a local flower petal. This sweet-smelling mixture is applied to her face and plaited hair, and has wondrous effects on keeping skin and braids healthy and young. Even though walking around with such dark skin and red mud causes Binti to be an easy target for torment, it doesn't stop her from leaning on this mixture as one of the last remnants of her past.
Soon after Binti boards the ship, a shocking tragedy strikes, and she must utilize all of her intelligence and relics from her past in order to save not only herself, but put a stop to an impending war of races. (Well, that escalated quickly!) This was a jarring an unexpected shift in tone for the story, but it was a wonderful experience witnessing how this young and capable girl subverts expectations to stay one half-step ahead of mysterious forces and unknown traditions.
One of the best parts of this novellas is also one of its biggest drawbacks: Okarafor has created some startling original and extremely cool creatures, set pieces, means of travel, and other tenants of science fiction and fantasy. However, many of these ideas are only touched upon briefly, so I was left wanting more. Perhaps that's a good thing? Luckily there are two more novellas in the Binti trilogy which I look forward to tackling next.
If you're looking for an interesting and cerebral mix of science fiction and fantasy that features an unlikely heroine, I recommend giving Binti a read. It can easily be devoured in a couple of hours, for better or for worse. It contains plenty of thought-provoking scenes that made me consider the value of tradition and culture, and how lateral thinking might be used to solve foreign crises -- certainly relevant to our own world at large.
This Binti book review was written by Adam Weller
All reviews for: Binti
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 ...
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 abandoned...
Binti: The Night Masquerade
The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor's Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.Binti has returned...
Have you read Binti?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Binti reader reviews
7.8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
All the Birds in the Sky
Charlie Jane Anders
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine, a witch, and Laurence Armstead, a mad scientist, parted ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. But as adults they bot...
Brave New World
Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley, and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified...
The Duke of Atreides has been manoeuvred by his arch-enemy, Baron Harkonnen, into administering the desert planet of Dune. Although it is almost completely without water, D...
The Lost World
Arthur Conan Doyle
It's London, 1907. Journalist Edward Malone, rejected by the woman he loves because he is too prosaic, decides to go in search of adventure and fame to prove himself wo...
The Martian Chronicles
The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection....
The Left Hand of Darkness
Ursula Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin’s groundbreaking work of science fiction—winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.A lone human ambassador is sent to ...
Megan E O Keefe
Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan ...
The Illustrated Man
That The Illustrated Man has remained in print since being published in 1951 is fair testimony to the universal appeal of Ray Bradbury's work. Only his second...
John Golden: Freelance Debugger
John Golden is a debugger: he goes inside the computer systems of his corporate clients to exterminate the gremlins, sprites, and other fairies that take up residence. But ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: