Series: Binti #1
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Published in September 2015 by Tor.com
Genre: science fiction
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
For years, I’ve watched other bloggers recommend Binti as some of their favorite science fiction reads so far. I’ve added it to my to-read list, and made so many mental notes to pick it up soon. “It’s a novella, it’s so short, you’ll be able to read it in one sitting!” And yet, it took me until January 2019 to actually read Binti, the first novella in the series of the same name. Why did I wait so long?! I ended up absolutely adoring this story, and I can’t wait to continue the series.
If you’re unaware, this novella follows Binti who is the first of the Himba people to be offered a place at Oomza University. The only problem is that her people don’t believe in traveling through space, and firmly state that they belong on Earth. Going to Oomza would mean having to give up her place in her family, and traveling to a place where no one is familiar with her traditions and culture. Binti decides that she isn’t willing to let this chance go, that she wants to learn from the most intelligent people in the entire galaxy. She has to go to Oomza. That’s where this story takes off.
I listened to the audiobook of Binti while cleaning my fridge and cupboards, and it was a fantastic experience. The narrator made it compelling and captivating, and I couldn’t stop listening. I was so invested in Binti’s story that I kept finding new cupboards to clean until the novella was over. In case you haven’t read this book yet, I’d highly recommend listening to the audiobook. It’s only 2.5 hours long, and that’s if you listen to it on regular speed.
I really don’t know what to say about this story, because it’s so short that anything I will say becomes a spoiler. Let’s just say it’s filled with space travel, war, making friends, misunderstandings, situations where she has to confront ignorance and racism, and more.
I can’t recommend this enough. I feel like pretty much everyone has already read this but if you haven’t, please do! I will definitely read the sequels soon. I might pick up the new bind-up of all the novellas and continue reading them in physical format.