Book Description:

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.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Nebula Award-winning novella Binti hooked me immediately from its opening pages, in which Binti is leaving not only her people but her home planet after being accepted at a prestigious university. I admired her bravery in doing so and the determination that drove her to follow her dream of pursuing knowledge even when everyone around her disapproved. Binti herself was easily my favorite part of the book, as she showed over and over again the vast depths of her bravery and tenacity.

However, I found earlier parts of the story more engaging than later parts of the story. It introduced a lot of fascinating elements, but I didn’t feel they were explored as much as they could have been and would have liked more detail on them than the length of this novella allowed. For one, I would have liked to have had a better understanding of Binti’s abilities as a master harmonizer and how she worked with her people. Since she has already left at the beginning of the story, it doesn’t show her with them (although there will be two more novellas about Binti, including one in which she goes home!). I loved the little touches that were mentioned, such as Binti learning to braid a family code into her hair, and I really wanted to know more about where she came from and what exactly her leaving meant for her people.

It also seemed as though I was told Binti was exceptionally clever more than I was shown she was exceptionally clever. Amazing events transpire because of her, and it’s mentioned that she had an impact due to her gifts as a master harmonizer, but I thought it came across as her stumbling into things and it all working out in her favor rather than her skills having an influence. Although her heart and heroic spirit shine through the entire story, I wanted more clarity about the role of her abilities in what unfolded.

All quibbles aside, I am glad I read Binti even though my initial enthusiasm for it waned after reading about half the book. I enjoyed reading about the main character more than I actually liked the story, but since I did love Binti and want to know more about her, I would definitely be interested in reading other stories focused on her.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: I received it for my birthday.

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