Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
A tentacle-haired, genius teenager decides to spend spring break at home, so she leaves Planet Math School to fly back to Africa on a living, pregnant spaceship, accompanied by her terrorist-turned-best-friend: a giant, gaseous jellyfish monster.
And thus begins chapter one of Binti: Home.
While this opening summary might feel like an unfinished entry of a Douglas Adams space satire, it is, in fact, a beautifully written, heartfelt story on finding one’s purpose in the universe.
Binti: Home, the second novella of the Afro-futuristic Binti trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor, is about twice the length of the first entry, and takes full advantage of its wider scope. While the first story focused on Binti running away from her Namibia-based Himba tribe on an intergalactic journey of discovery, this sequel turns the focus of revelation inward. Binti continues to struggle with her place in the universe as she confronts her family, the history of her people, and her connection to the various relics, species, and technologies that surround her. Although she continues to find challenges wherever she lands, Binti’s interactions with foreign and domestic cultures helps to evolve her quest for self-identification and acceptance with her peers and loved ones.
Okorafor continues to impress with the amount of ground she covers in so few pages. One of the few issues I had with the first novella was how quickly many of the more interesting ideas and themes were glossed over in favor of moving the story along at a quickened pace. I was pleased to discover that we spend most of this volume diving deeper into nearly all the mysteries that were referenced in the first book: the true meaning of the god stone; attempting to gain control of her inner fury; her acceptance of the Meduse inside her body; her motivations for leaving and returning home; her struggles with PTSD; her quest to discover meaning in the history of her tribe and its surrounding peoples.
The world-building and lore are nuanced and compelling, and most of the supporting cast feels fully realized. It’s a testament to Okorafor’s gift with economical and efficient dialogue that helps paint a vivid picture of the varying races and settings we spend time with. The book ends on a thrilling and unexpected cliffhanger, and I’m eager to dive into the conclusion to this delicate and original story.
This Binti: Home book review was written by Adam Weller
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