I listened to the first Binti story as an audio book without knowing that it wasn’t a full-length book, and then had looooots of road trip left when it was done. So I was prepared this time, but it still ended very abruptly and left me in the lurch! I like Binti a lot, though, and I am very interested to see how she gets out of this latest cliffhanger.
Binti and her jellyfish alien friend Okwu have completed their first year at university, and she goes home for a visit, and to complete a pilgrimage. Okwu joins her as an ambassador – the first of his people to ever come to Earth in peace. Tensions are high when they get there – the locals vs. Okwu, and Binti vs. her family, who challenge her on her decision to leave home, and assume that she’s now home to stay, rather than visit.
Binti’s pilgrimage ends up being a different one than she planned, as she ends up in the desert with her unknown grandmother, learning astonishing things about her own history. As she’s gallivanting in the desert, though, she leaves Okwu at home with her family. I thought that was a little rude, but now that Binti is part Meduse, she and Okwu can communicate even when they’re miles apart.
For as much ground as they cover, these novellas seem more slice-of-life than sci-fi/action. Binti is very introspective, and she’s given much to think about in this part of the story. I appreciate her willingness to learn and grow, and embrace all aspects of her character, while remaining true to herself and her Himba roots.