Monday, June 14, 2021

REVIEW: Binti: Home (novella) by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: Home is science fiction, the second work in a trilogy. I previously reviewed Binti, the first novella.

I bought my copy of this book brand new.


It's been a year since Binti left home and began attending Oomza University. Her studies are going well, but she's having emotional difficulties. She keeps having bursts of increasingly difficult to control anger. She's also suffering from PTSD-related panic attacks. Anything that reminds her of the slaughter on the spaceship that brought her to Oomza Uni can bring them on, including her best friend, the Meduse Okwu, who also happened to be one of the beings who participated in the slaughter.

Binti secretly fears that the changes the Meduse made her undergo have somehow made her unclean. She decides to return home and go on a pilgrimage to help cleanse herself. However, her journey soon takes an unexpected turn and forces her to confront her prejudices and some of the things she thought she knew about herself.

One of my biggest complaints about Binti was how it seemed to brush off the horrible things Binti had gone through. She lived through the slaughter of most of the people on her spaceship, several of whom she'd become friends with, and she spent a period of time terrified that she would die too. The Meduse physically changed her without her consent, robbing her of the hair she'd braided to reflect her culture. So what did she do? She became friends with one of the aliens who participated in the slaughter and who'd threatened to kill her as well. It made my skin crawl and put me off this series to such a degree that I almost couldn't bring myself to continue on. 

Yes, Binti is a "harmonizer," someone who, among other things, is supposed to act as a peacemaker. I was fine with her acting as a mediator for the Meduse, but it wasn't necessary for her to also become friends with one of them so quickly after they traumatized her on multiple levels. In Binti: Home, I finally got the emotional reactions from her that I'd expected in the first work, but still combined with her bending over backwards to try to make her friendship with Okwu work. I know other readers enjoy their friendship, but I can't understand why. It struck me as unhealthy and harmful for Binti.

There were some interesting revelations in this volume, and I know there's only one more novella to go, but I think I'm done with this series. It rubs me the wrong way, and I'm not interested enough in the direction it's taking to want to continue on.

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