Review: Binti: Home (novella)

Nnedi Okorafor’s young protagonist gets another adventure in her journey. Suffering from the aftermath of the first novella, Binti carries the trauma of a massacre, acquired alien DNA and a degree of celebrity she isn’t prepared for. She takes the only step she can to put her life back in balance and decides to (temporarily) leave the Oomza Uni and travel back to Earth and home. She decides as well to bring Okwu, her friend, with her but Okwu is also a member of the aggressive Meduse…

It’s not a flaw for the central character to be somewhat annoying in this kind of story. Binti is a multitalented young woman who has both natural talents and who has been caught up in extraordinary events. Growing as a person requires flaws and Binti’s are those that follow somebody who achieves academic success and fame early – including a degree of both arrogance and self-doubt. Even so, I found Binti generally less likeable in this instalment.

But maybe that’s just the nature of this particular step in her journey. This is very much a transitionary story. It starts in the aftermath of the previous novella and ends on a cliffhanger. While Binti learns some things about her family, her people and the hidden history of her land, she doesn’t change much as a person (yet). I think this will work better as part of the whole story sandwhiched between the first and third novella but as a story in itself it didn’t really gel for me.


17 thoughts on “Review: Binti: Home (novella)

  1. as a story in itself it didn’t really gel for me.

    Yeah, me neither unfortunately. I’ve heard the third volume is better, but that’ll have to wait until I’m done with my Hugo reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, same here. I find the world interesting. I find the characters’ motivations often obtuse and strange. I get that the culture she’s coming from is tradition-bound, and those bits make sense, but I generally can’t quite get what’s motivating anyone.

    It was a competitive year for that category – my top three would probably have been the same regardless. Binti came in 4th on my ballot, just in front of River of Teeth (that may yet change).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The lack of ending killed it for me as a separate story. Also, the first part was all leading up to, yay she makes it there — and here she just turns right around and goes home? WTF?

    And really, the girl is super-annoying. Mary Sue-ish, too.

    It is LAST on my ballot. When there’s Murderbot and Murder Hippos, it doesn’t stack up.

    (I will be surprised if Murderbot doesn’t win.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Both Binti novellas have been frustrating for me in that there are so many good and interesting aspects of the worldbuilding which are marred by their execution. Both novellas have a deus ex machina introduced late in the story which feel like “not sure where to go from here, let’s stick in something unexpected and unexplained which enables the story to move in a different direction”.

    That said, I will still probably read the third book at some point, it just won’t be on my priority list.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I enjoyed River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow just fine, but I probably wouldn’t have read them if they were novel-length. There’s some interesting subversion of traditional western tropes and traditional character types, but I did not find the plots exceptional, and parts of the worldbuilding just don’t work well, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read Taste of Marrow, but I felt that way about River of Teeth. My top three is the other two of the murder duo, and the McGuire. I was completely not expecting that, as I was only meh about the first one in that series.

      Like

    2. River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow hit so many of my sweet spots, so I’m willing to overlook some flaws. Binti: Home is okay, but I preferred the first installment and that wasn’t at the top of my ballot either. The Wayward Children novellas just don’t work for me at all. Portal fantasies aren’t a thing in German children’s lit, so they don’t resonate with me as much. And while I like the basic idea behind the series, it’s fine for a short story, but overstretched by a novella, let alone three. Black Tides/Red Threads, finally, seems to be this year’s memory hole finalist (there’s always at least one on every Hugo ballot), which I like okay, but forget soon after reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt like The Black Tides of Heaven was a novel’s worth (possibly a trilogy’s worth) of epic story condensed into novella form. I’m not sure I’d be interested in reading a longer version, though, as the characters probably wouldn’t stand up for a novel’s worth of story. It came in well above No Award but was my least favorite.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kathodus: I felt like The Black Tides of Heaven was a novel’s worth (possibly a trilogy’s worth) of epic story condensed into novella form. I’m not sure I’d be interested in reading a longer version, though, as the characters probably wouldn’t stand up for a novel’s worth of story.

      I had the same reaction. I found it difficult to get personally invested in the characters, since we only get to see chunks of their lives separated by vast spans of years, and are told in retrospect what has happened during the gaps. I think that the worldbuilding was interesting, but not necessarily thought through to a great extent, leading to some jarring inconsistencies.

      Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.