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text 2018-07-28 23:29
2018 Hugo Ballot: Best Novella
All Systems Red - Martha Wells
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor
The Black Tides of Heaven - JY Yang
Down Among the Sticks and Bones - Seanan McGuire
River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey

This is part of a series of posts reviewing categories in this year's Hugo ballot. I'll be discussing the entries, the voter packet, and my ballot. I've nominated and voted most years since 2011, when I figured out that all I had to do was join Worldcon to get to do so.

 

Novella is a length I tend to struggle with as a reader. Often I find them either rushed, or stuffed with filler. This year has several I enjoyed, though.

 

  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing) - 4 Stars. Top of ballot, one of my favorite novellas ever. The narrator is excellent.

 

  • And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017) - 4 Stars. A murder mystery at a convention where everyone is the same person. Another excellent example of the right amount of plot for the length. This works really well. I didn't even mind being ahead of the narrator in solving the crime.

 

  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 Stars. Well written, but has some of my usual issues with serialized ficiton.

 

  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 Stars. Great worldbuilding, but not as solid across all elements.

 

  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing) - 4 Stars. I am surprised by how much I liked this given how underwhelming I found the previous novella in this series.

 

  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing) - 3.5 stars. Great characters, but this felt incomplete. Like the first 30% of a great book, but not quite enough content to be satisfying.

 

So, obviously All Systems Red will be at the top. Followed by And Then . . and Sticks and Bones. Black Tides next, then Home, and River of Teeth. This is a very solid selection of novellas.  

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review 2018-06-23 03:18
Revew: Binti: Home
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

Undeniably well written and imaginative, but not a solid hit for me. I love that there are so many ideas this is practically bursting at the seams. But it ends in a very odd place. A place that feels more like the middle of a chapter than a break between serialized volumes. 

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review 2018-03-30 12:55
World Building Got Too Complicated & Cliffhanger Ending Didn't Resonate
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

So I really enjoyed the first Binti book. This one definitely reads like a middle book. We have a lot of revelations thrown at Binti in this one and then we get a cliffhanger ending. I felt really annoyed since I think every story should be able to end on it's own. Don't get me started on the problem with trilogies in Young Adult fantasy fiction. 

 

In "Home" we find Binti a year later after the events in the first book. Binti is still dealing with the effects she has experienced from the Meduse. She's also rightfully dealing with PTSD after watching her classmates all be murdered in front of her. She is returning home to her people with Okwu in tow.

 

Though the book synopsis tries to make it about Okwu being able to meet Binti and her people and be at peace with them, actually this book really is about Binti and being able to make peace with her family and friends. Due to the changes in her appearance she is shunned. Her former best friend won't have a thing to do with her. And her family is angry she left to go to Oomza University. 

 

I am rooting for Binti though and liked that she refused to back down from wanting more than to be married, have children, and be a master harmonizer. 

 

The other characters are written in such broad strokes though. We don't get to spend much time with anyone (I read the 176 page Kindle edition of this book) due to the length of this book. I honestly don't get why Binti and Okwu even traveled back to Earth together. I do understand her ambivalence about him though due to him or his people being responsible for the deaths of so many students. I am glad that Okorafor addressed that in this book though since I thought book #1 was way too rah rah everyone is going to learn together. 

 

The writing is interesting. Okorafor is obviously blending some African folklore with fantasy elements. I am sad to say that I am not that familiar with some of the themes she has in this book, but it was pretty interesting to read about. The flow was off though. I think it's because towards the end we just have Binti reacting to things she's being told and we had way too many information dumps coming our way via secondary characters regarding the Himba/Desert People thing which is still confusing to me. 

 

Speaking of that, I do think the world-building was a bit of a mess in this one though. I didn't understand everything we were being told about the golden people, the edan, etc. 

 

The book ends on a cliffhanger which always irritates me. I like each story/book to have a proper beginning, middle, and end. If you need a cliffhanger in your book, you did something wrong along the way.  

 

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text 2018-03-29 22:36
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

I need to read this again. Got distracted by dust. Don't judge me!

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text 2018-03-29 21:00
Reading progress update: I've read 36%.
Binti: Home - Nnedi Okorafor

Okwu is an asshole.


Also I am high as heck on nasal decongestant and everything seems funny to me right now, so apologies for any misspellings or random asides when I post updates. 

 

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