Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: the first book in a trilogy
Note: Attempting a spoiler free review here.
Sci-fi and fantasy are both genres that sometimes blend together in ways that I’m unsure what to call a book. Binti is that way. Though perhaps Binti is sci-fi with a mix of magical realism. Magical realism for an invented world, invented peoples, and magical realism because racism never made the people of this universe think beyond a tradition.
I used to read quickly, especially when I was still in school. My partner handed me a Kindle — which I don’t usually read on, preferring like lots of folks paper — and told me Binti would take me 30 minutes to finish. The Kindle clocks you. It took me slightly over twice as long to read Binti.
I prefer to read at a slower pace now because it lets the words sink in. It helps me paint a picture. It helps me remember Binti beyond the minutes I spent reading it.
Okorafor crafts a world that deserves a slow read. (Though I am looking forward to reading the next installments.) She plays with concepts that could slip on by if you aren’t paying attention. There’s a reveal at the end of the Binti that changes Binti, our main character, forever on her journey. Blink, and you’ll wonder how you got there. Stay with the words, and you’ll see the path.
Binti’s transformation and her differences being her strength make her stand out as a heroine. She’s also a believable young person, who’s on the cusp of adulthood, balancing both curiosity and fear. She defies her parents, but also embodies their goodness in her path.
Okorafor does a wonderful bait-and-switch on how you think the story will unravel. It’s such a delight to be sucked in, and then have a twist that shifts everything you thought was true, multiple times, in a short novella.
Take your time with Binti, and you too will be rewarded.