I first saw this book series on Hannah J. Russel’s blog (here’s a page where it’s shown, but she’s talked about enjoying the series elsewhere). I also enjoyed the first book in the series, so I thought I might as well swing through the rest of them.
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
This book is about twice the length of the first in the series, so I felt like it was a reasonable stand-alone book eligible for one of my reviews. Luckily, my library had all three in the series, so I bought them home!
I thought this addition to the series was better than the first. Though I still had major issues with the science fiction premises, Binti’s struggle felt more personal in this book and I could root for her with a bit more emotion.
Something that this book went into that I found missing in the first installation was the intersectionality of Binti being both Himba and female. The first book did focus on Binti’s cultural heritage and unique niceties that made her a good main character, but it didn’t show any complexities or failings of her original society. Here, you get to see a bit more of the dark sides of Himba culture, especially in the differences between how males and females are treated. There’s also the unexpected addition of another tribe, the Enyi Zinariya, that added further complexity that I thought made for great internal tension.
Like with the first book, many of the solutions to the problems felt contrived. Other solutions felt like they shouldn’t have worked at all. The presence of Binti’s artifact, the edan, continued to cause and solve more problems than I felt like it should. Though Binti: Home has some incredible strengths that make it worth reading, it also has some glaring plot weaknesses.
4/5 Discoball Snowcones
The plot, sadly, was the weakest part of the book. With beautiful worldbuilding and delicate appreciation of cultural, racial, and gender issues, this book has a lot going for it.
However, I found Binti’s sudden use of telepathy, her discovery of being connected to an ancient genetic computer that she inherited through her father’s alien DNA, and her seeing the male-exclusive Night Masquerade to be extremely convenient and a little nonsensical. I still don’t understand the concept of ‘mathematical current’ or ‘mathematical sight,’ and I think the author should have just said she’s psychic because of magic.
I also didn’t like how the first book teased you that this was going to be about college, then she just ditches and goes back home at the beginning of the book. Sure, it hints that she’s going back to college, but I was a bit disappointed. The book’s actual story and setting make up for it, but it’s just something to be aware of.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, Binti: The Night Masquerade!