Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a beautiful read. It’s a novella, so it’s easily devoured in a day. I read this Hugo and Nebula winner cover to cover in one sitting. It deserves the awards. I’ll definitely check out the author’s other work since this one was such a treat.
It was easy to identify with Binti. She’s a 16-year-old girl who wins a scholarship to the finest university in the galaxy. Of the Himba people, her family and friends aren’t happy about her leaving. Himbas don’t leave their land or their traditions. If she leaves, they won’t welcome her back.
The story opens with Binti running off in the night to catch the starship. It was easy to feel the burning hope of a bright future and the loss of home as Binti sets off. Her people wear red clay and she really sticks out at the spaceport and on the ship.
Despite being such a misfit, Binti doesn’t give up her customs or her people’s traditions. How can we shed what we are? We can’t completely. Customs and traditions are the foundation of self.
For a short work, this book explores a lot about self and the beauty of not conforming. The words are froth with meaning and wisdom. The story definitely has a lot of delicious layers.
On the way to the university, the love of mathematics brings Binti friendships and a budding romance. I was enjoying her growth and learning about the galaxy as Binti learns about it. Then it all dramatically changes.
I won’t ruin the surprising twists for you. This tale was gripping and gorgeous and amazing. The writing is impeccable and I sopped up every word. Definitely worth reading. I couldn’t put this book down and am excited there are two more books in this series. Don’t miss this gem!
Here’s the official blurb:
Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best 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.