Friday Review: Binti: Home (Binti #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Home takes place about a year after the first novella in this series. Binti is still at Oomza University after the events of the first novella but she is suffering from PTSD in the aftereffects of the events that had her hailed as a hero. She decides to go home to her Himba people to participate in the ritual pilgrimage into the desert undertaken by the women of her tribe. She hopes it will help her to deal with her ongoing nightmares and outbursts of rage. Accompanying her is her Meduse friend, Okwu, the first of his race to set foot on Earth in many years. The Meduse and humans are under a tenuous peace treaty but there are still resentments and distrust of the Meduse among the humans. Binti’s own relationship with her family is strained because of her decision to leave her home and go to Uni. And Okwu’s presence doesn’t make things any easier.

I liked this one as much as I did the first. The way Okorafor blends African culture, mythology, and magic with science fiction, math, and politics lets it all work together without seeming too much of any one part. There are definite themes here: social and cultural prejudices, family interweavings, coping with trauma, and political statements. But very little is whack-you-over-the-head with the message. It’s there, but it’s also an integral part of the story. Binti herself is a difficult character- she’s tough and smart, but she has a wall around herself that is hard for anyone, even the reader, to see through. She’s likable, but not quite lovable, and I think she wasn’t meant to be. She’s who she is, first and always.

There is some action and conflict here, but most of the tension is derived from the interpersonal relations- Binti and her siblings, her parents, the desert people she meets on her pilgrimage, Okwu, and the ruling Khoush. There is a continuing of the coming of age feel of the first book, as BInti begins to discover some more truths about herself and her heritage. And, like all families, there is some drama and some tragedy.

One warning- the book does end on a cliffhanger, so if you are not a fan of that sort of thing, you might want to have part three handy when you read this one.

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