Binti tells the story of the human girl, Binti Ekeopara Zuzu Dambu Kaipka of Namib, the first Himba to leave Earth and attend Oomza University. Shortly into the trip, the Meduse attack the living ship she is taking between the stars. In order to survive the attack, she has to use her wits, all her knowledge, and a little bit more.
I was first introduced to Nnedi Okorafor when I read the Decision Points anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Her story, “Sankofa”, was one of my favorites in that collection, and it caused me to seek out more of her works. I am very glad I did.
Binti was a very interesting protagonist. The extenuating circumstances in which she found herself are not common (how often do aliens attack us?), but her journey and experiences are common. Most of us find ourselves in situations where we are the “other” at some point in our lives. Those times can be frightening and cause us to reach inward for the known for comfort and safety.
As with Binti, however, we can only grow and learn by reaching outward and seeking to understand the unknown. Okorafor does a wonderful job showing that journey, showing the steps Binti takes as she learns what she must do to progress. That message is a big part of the story, but Okorafor does a masterful job weaving it seamlessly into an interesting story. This reminded me a little of Octavia E. Butler‘s Xenogenesis trilogy, which is one of my favorites. Many people may not even notice the message unless they look for it.
My only issue with the story was that part of the resolution felt too convenient and unrealistic. People in the positions of those who make the big resolution decision at the end are not generally as amenable as those in the story. They would be protecting their territory and trying to pass the buck. That’s just the way bureaucracies work. Sorry, but I have to be vague here so I don’t ruin the story for those who haven’t read it.
Outside of that, however, I loved Binti. I look forward to reading the sequel, Binti – Home, when it comes out at the end of this month. I look forward to reading more of Okorafor’s works in the future.
Release Date: September 22, 2015 (USA)
ISBNs: 0765385252 (9780765385253)
Publisher: Tor Books
Language: 1 (brief stronger)
Violence: 2 (some violent death, briefly graphic)