Over the holidays I read the Binti Trilogy (Binti, Home, The Night Masquerade). Now, I was intrigued because it’s Nnedi Okoafor (I lovedAkata Witch). So Binti went on sale and I picked it up. I didn’t realize these are novellas, so they are quick little reads and thoroughly enjoyable.
What I love about Okoafor is her great twists on genres. In Akata, she brought african mythology to the traditional western fantasy genre. She approached a similar idea with Binti. The main character, Binti, is brilliant and imperfect in some of the best ways.
I don’t want to spoil the plot, and I’m not sure I can sum up beyond the first few pages of book 1 without spoilers. So… let’s just say the plot kept me so engrossed I was sad to leave the universe she had built. I firmly believe Binti and her companions have further adventures – they have to. They are too good together not to get into more shenanigans.
My only “constructive” critique is more personal preference. Sometimes, Okoafor explained the “sci-fi” stuff and sometimes she didn’t. It wasn’t terribly done, but more than once either something unexplained (almost fantastical) was in the story and pulled me out; or there was something she spent just a sentence or two too much explaining and…. it pulled me out. Now, this is pretty common in sci-fi. The things that make me drop will be different than other people – so as much as I’ll critique it because I noticed it, it’s very rare it’s a reason I would use to avoid a book. Fantasy does it too with their magic, so it’s an almost impossible to avoid. I might even call it a trope within both genres.
I’m also a sucker for cultures, so giving me just enough of a “foreign” culture (in this case some of the extraterrestrial cultures) makes me want more. Because these are novellas, this is definitely something Okoafor had to keep to minimum. Which means I had to frequently fill in gaps with my own context and assumptions – I’m going to write about this in a more in-depth way in another post, it’s something on my mind for the last few books I’ve read.
These books are great – short and sweet; quick consumption; delicious world-building; and some fun characters.