Novella Review: Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Tor.com

Length: 176 pages

Format: ebook

Rating: 3.5 stars

Publication Date: January 31th 2017

 

 

 

Publisher’s description

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

 

Book Review

Set a year after the event of Binti, Okorafor’s multi-award winning novella, Binti: Home starts off when Binti wants to come back home. She is suffering from PTSD after the events of the first book and she’s unsucessfully trying to keep it together at Oomza University . However, she knows that she finally needs to confront her family after running away at the other end of the universe against her family’s will.

Of course, once back in her home, she has to deal with the anger of her family members and she soon discovers family secrets that might change everything.

 

I very much admire Nnedi Okorafor, I think she is an extremely talented writer, her stories and worldbuilding are always unique and interesting however I didn’t had a lot of expectations about Binti: Home. Indeed, I had very mixed thoughts and feelings about Binti, her first novella, that I found overhyped and pretty lacking in terms of worldbuildings and character development. So I went with very low expectations in Home and I liked it a lot more.

The world was indeed built on, we met other races of aliens and we learnt a bit more about the Koush and The Meduse’s wars. However, I still hope that Okorafor is going to explain what is happening on Earth, because so far, we just know that they are three types of humans, The Koush that appears to be white and seems to be the most widespread human race, The Himba and the Desert People and… that’s all. I found the fact that Okorafor wants us to believes that her universe is full of diverse species but even the humans only “come in” very few different types and that’s bothering me a bit. It was the same in Binti and I wished she had changed that a bit but infortunately that’s not the case.

One of the other hopes I had was that the character of Binti would be more explored, in the first novella, I found Binti to be a very one dimensional character and again, I didn’t really thought she changed in Home. True, she is now dealing with her trauma but she’s almost defined but it. I feel like I don’t know her at all and that’s a bit sad. She is very self-centered but she doesn’t seem to want anything, in Binti, when her body is modified against her will, she says nothing, in Home, when strangers ask her to come with them, she does, when her family critisize her, she doesn’t defend herself.

I can deal with unlikeable characters as long as I know a bit about them, I just don’t like it when characters only feel like a word on a page, I want them to have more substance and in Binti and again in Home, I didn’t get that. And that’s not because of the format, I have read short stories that in 5, 10, 15 pages managed to create characters that felt real so I think that it is doable in 96 pages (Binti’s length) or 176 pages (Home’s).

However, even if I still had issues with Binti, I still thought Home was better installment than the first novella. I enjoyed learning more about the world, about Oomza University and about the history of this world. I read Home in two sittings and I never felt bored and even though it’s far from perfect for me, if you enjoyed Binti, I think that Home will also please you. Even if it’s not Okorafor’s best work ( in my opinion this title should be reserved for The Book of Phoenix), it’s still worth a read.

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6 thoughts on “Novella Review: Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor

  1. It’s good to know the sequel is better than the first book. I’m still not sure whether or not I’ll continue the series; I was really let down by book one. I may still give this a read if I have time, but it’s more likely I’ll end up reading one of her full length novels before that. 🙂 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry to hear that Binti’s character comes across as quite passive: I would have thought that the experience she went through – harrowing as it was – would have made her more sure of herself, more… proactive. That said, I’m very curious about her family’s reactions and the (however incomplete) information about Earth’s social structure.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

  3. I agree with most of this. I want to like this series but it isn’t working. I want to blame the novella format for not giving me the depth i hope for but I think that is a bit of a cop out. This series just isn’t working for me.

    Like

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