Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Publisher: Tor Books
Binti is an easy read that incorporates some important themes, without feeling preachy. It’s a space adventure, and it manages to make for a fast paced and interesting read. Because of this, the word count does let down the plot – there is simply not enough space set aside to show us more and enable us to understand the world, the motivations or explanations of every character’s actions or the historical backdrop.
It does read like a YA story and I suspect that was the target market and the reason for keeping things short and snappy. That’s fine, but it felt limited in scope, and there are aspects to the story you just have to accept, which is a bit of a gripe I have with some sci-fi. Things happen that you would expect to have 20 pages devoted to, that finish up in a page or so. It’s hard to give examples without becoming spoilery in a novella. But the aliens in the book do something terrible that has no real repurcussions, and the situation it creates is resolved without difficulty. It feels a little softened and rose-tinted in tone after the initial atrocity occurs, which is anything but.
One of the things that’s really been putting me off some books recently is pointless storylines that go nowhere, or getting bogged down in events or details that really don’t add anything to the wider story, long or short term. Despite its flaws, Binti excels at keeping its attention on the main story and maintaining the engagement of the reader. This is my first book from Nnedi Okorafor. Her imagination and writing style is excellent and really adds to the overall feel of a quality and satisfying read. She is able to create a sense of wonder but also convey a feeling of tension and intensity in corresponding events. Okorafor really excels in making us share Binti’s isolation, fears, sense of identity and strength in adversity.
I’d certainly say Binti’s character is the aspect of the book I liked the most. She is fiercely proud of her Himba roots, but is also a passionately independent woman who knows staying on Earth will limit her potential (and dreams). Being a first person narrative, we are able to experience her thought process and the book works better for it than a third person perspective would. This book is an enjoyable read, it won’t blow you away but there are some cool aspects and the writing style is good. For me to enjoy it more I would have liked to know more about the world and it’s people, to have had a bit of a wider scope and be a little more realistic in terms of the actions of the characters. It was still fun though and I would recommend it!