I have been excited to read this book for a long time given how much praise it has received, and I feel that this may have built up my expectations. What the story does well is to establish Binti as a character, she is a talented young Himba woman, an semi-Nomadic indigenous people from northern Namibia. The Himba are most famously known for covering themselves with otjize that protects their skin from the harsh desert climate. In the futuristic imagining of the Himba people, they are still isolated from society and so Binti’s journey into the rest of the world is one of discovery but also danger as she encounters prejudice everywhere she goes.
“We prefer to explore the universe by traveling inward, as opposed to outward.”
I really like Binti’s character, her ambitions, kindness, and cleverness; Binti’s characterization is the strongest part of the novel. Okorafor has a writing style that is easily readable, and the story moves at a lightning-fast speed. While I enjoyed the pacing of the story, the short story format worked against the plot. The idea of a girl settling a war is an ambitious one, so the conflict was condensed to a single conflict. What happens during this conflict can only be described as deus ex machina, everything was solved so easily and with convenient technology. I also took issue with the resolution, which made no sense with the events that happen near the beginning of the novel. I’m a pacifist at heart and am all for peaceful resolutions, but the way that things were resolved was just too ideal to the point of being unbelievable. Overall it is a decent start to a series, despite its faults I am engaged enough in Binti’s character that I am still interested to see where her story goes.