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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-17 18:59
So, I Finally Read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and Here's What I Thought...
Binti - Nnedi Okorafor

 

The cover was perfect.

On a related note, look at what the author had to say about the whitewashing of her covers.

 

I loved how the acknowledgments described UAE as "futuristic ancient".

It is such a perfect description because you get this old feel when you visit the place and then there are those skyscrapers that add a futuristic shade to things. Mostly unrelated but reminded me of how a Pakistani artist imagined our country would like in SF mode! Check it out:

 

 

 

 

 

See more of his art here. Anyway, back to the review:

 

This is how YAs should go!

I mean there's this teenager who is running away from home, readying herself to face all kinds of racism, just so she can attend a university. I loved that.

 

Some thoughts were expressed so beautifully...

 

 

 

 

I might have been reading too much into it but I could see some parallels.

While talking about cooking fish, Binti mentioned:

 

they lulled the fish into a sleep that the fish never woke from

It reminded me of two things:

a) The Himba are an animist people, which is why they would be gentle towards any organisms they consumed.

b) How as Muslims we have rules upon rules that minimize the pain of an animal prior to being slaughtered for food.

 

 

I loved how Binti's love and respect for her family would shine through her thoughts. For instance, look at this quote:

 

Would my family even comprehend it all when I explained it to them?

 

And then, she followed it with another thought that I wasn't expecting. She didn't think they weren't smart enough to understand why she did what she did. Instead, she said:

 

Or would they just fixate on the fact that I'd almost died...

 

I kept imagining the Meduse as the love-child of jellyfishes and Cthulhu though I dunno why! While researching that unholy union, I came across this instead:

 

 

To summarize, YA done well, in terms of strong, sensible female lead, making it a must-read for all YA lovers out there.

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text 2017-03-05 02:02
What I got with my gift card
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twen... On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century - Timothy Snyder
We Should All Be Feminists Paperback - February 3, 2015 - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump - James Aaron Tecumseh Sinclair
The Black Notebook - Patrick Modiano,Mark Polizzotti
Binti - Nnedi Okorafor

On Tyranny looks fascinating and timely and I want to read a little more politically minded right now.   It's also a cute, small book, so I figure it's a good choice for post-September when I won't have much time!

 

We Should All Be Feminists is my fuck you to all the misogynists.   Also, small, cute, and short, so again, saving it for post grad-school when I'll have no time.

 

His Majesty's Dragon is a physical copy so that I have one for Novik to sign. 

 

Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump is my fuck you to Trump.   Small, short, although a little bigger than the other two.   I want to understand a little more about Trump, and well, I'd like to think anyone buying this, and reading it, pisses him off.   

 

I got three copies of Black Book by Modiano as a thank you to the three people who wrote my letters of recommendation.  

I got a copy of Binti because the professor who did my phone interview loved this, too, so I'm going to get it signed and surprise her with it.   

 

I'm looking forward to like everything.   Then again, just earlier this week I got so nervous my mind basically shut off my feelings to cope: I couldn't get interested in anything.   Everything excites me now that the feels have been turned on.   I'm watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and loving it, reading, and loving it all.   

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review 2017-02-27 18:39
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

Another Tor.com home run! A brilliant novella with wonderful unique world building.  Manditory reading.

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review 2017-02-26 15:42
Love, love, love this series!
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

This book fills in some plot holes from book one.   And I'm not going to pressure anyone into reading this if they were unhappy with book one: the truth is that it shouldn't have really worked the way she set it up.   Binti is a little advanced, I think, for any of her people, so the accusation of Mary Sue may be presented here.   (It's not really the case.   She's a genius, yes, but she still struggles with fitting into her tribe, finding her place in the world, and not everyone in her family approves of what she does.   She's certainly not good at everything, and if just being a genius is all it takes to be a Mary Sue, well, then, something is wrong with that term.   That something is the targeting of smart, powerful women.)

 

This novella fits into the world: the first was all about the science fiction elements and far more action-heavy.   This novella not only goes back home, but stops to give Binti some times to breathe.   It's not that it slacks off, either.  If anything, it presses the question of tribe, tribal connection, and what it means to be HImba.   It puts familial tension at the forefront for much of the time, and includes fantastical and science-fiction elements as needed. 

 

That being said, this is one of those oddities.  Most series have a very, very familiar feel in my mind.   That is, they balance action and humor and warmth and tend to stick to that.   They don't veer so sharply in the second novel, at least, and even Black Powder War, the anomaly in Temeraire, felt far more like the first two books than this did to Binti.   And as much as I loved Binti, I loved this novel.   Binti set up the world for this series, set the characters, timing, place, and the world.   Home just dug into all those and allowed us to explore them more fully.  Much like Temeraire, I look back and am surprised at how much felt like every day life (meals, walking, talking) and yet was fully entrancing.   

 

More than that, I really love reading about other cultures from someone like Okorafor: she's of Nigerian descent, she's a professor of creative writing, and she travels, often to Nigeria according to her biography at the end of this book.  What I mean is that researches, even her own history, and this is probably why her portrayal of tribal life feels so... effortless.   It feels realistic, and unlike other books in which it feels that it breaks at some points, Binti's struggles with her tribe, her tribal way of life, feel present all the time.   Even when she's not home, even when she's focusing on other things, it all comes back to her life as a Himba.   Of course, I don't really know that much about this - which is why I find reading about it so fascinating - but it feels more real in the little details than most other books I've read.   In the same way that G. Willow Wilson, convert to the Muslim faith and writer of Muslim superhero, Ms. Marvel, has little details that I think would be glossed over by someone outside the faith, this has little details, ever present, that make this lifestyle feel more real, more solid, to me. 

 

I'm interested in seeing where Binti's story goes next.   I can't believe I have to wait until September, but I'm willing to wait.  I would rather have a polished story than something rushed, so while I do moan, I also appreciate that the author has a life outside of writing Binti, and that she lives her life while also writing these, and making sure they're gems.   

 

I'll be continuing with The Night Masquerade - the subtitle to the next book - and beyond should there be more in this series, no matter how long they take to come out in the future. 

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text 2017-02-26 15:25
Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 162 pages.
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

Warning: cliffhanger ending and the next one?   I can find an expected publication date of September, 2017.   So about a half a year away.   No, why?  

 

This is why I'm so good with comics: cliffhangers, but only a month.   And even then, I do occasionally go 'why' and then go back to my pile of comics.

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