April 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

homeHome by Nnedi Okorafor


Binti was my favorite of the first Tor novellas I read a couple of years ago, so when I saw that Okorafor had written a sequel, I knew I was going to be first in line to read it. It took me a few days to get around to it, thanks to some other books I was trying to finish first (I’m one of those save-your-favorite-food-for-the-last-bite-of-dinner eaters), but I’m pleased to see that the author wrote a story as profound as Binti.

We return to the life of Binti, lone survivor of an attack in space that killed everyone else on the ship, and now friend to one of the race of aliens that killed the other travelers, named Okwu. After a year at Oomza University, she feels the need to return home to see her family, and takes Okwu with her. That one year has changed Binti in several ways, all of which become apparent once she faces her family.

Okorafor takes on some heady themes with this novella, all of them having to do with home. Binti returns to her home, but so much has changed that she’s uncertain where home really is. Is it her family? The University? With Okwu? Elsewhere? The story is imbued with uncertainty, as Binti is pulled apart by her conflicting desires and responsibilities.

The author continues to draw on African culture to tell her story, which is refreshing to see in science fiction. Okorafor’s world is engaging, full of new technology and ideas that belong in the future, but are also rooted in the past. Binti, aside from being a student, is also a master harmonizer, one who can establish peace between alien races, which is a tradition that goes back through generations in her culture. Her new technology, education, and transformation helps her in this role, even as her experiences make her prone to panic attacks and anger, causing her further conflict. It’s easy to get caught up in Okorafor’s world and character, even if the story ends rather suddenly.

That’s my main gripe with Home, that it’s clearly just the second act in a three-act story. It ends on a cliffhanger, with very little resolved, which I’m seeing more and more in multi-volume stories. I miss when series could be comprised of self-contained stories, instead of drawing out one story over multiple parts. I say, that, though, knowing full well that I loved every book of A Song of Ice and Fire, which last ended on a cliffhanger that still hasn’t been resolved.

Okorafor is a talented writer who brings a fresh perspective to science fiction. Home is as good as, if not better than, Binti, and even if I wasn’t wild with how it ended, I’m in for the rest of the story. Whenever Binti III is released, I’m sure I’ll once again be first in line to read it and see how Okorafor concludes this mini-saga.

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