I have a bit of a confession to make: I assigned my students a novella that I hadn’t read the conclusion of. This isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. Binti is a trilogy, and I’d read the first installment, assigned it, started the full trilogy, put it down, forgot about it, then picked it back up with about 2 weeks left in the semester. Here follows a review of the full trilogy.
Reasons I picked this for an intro to lit/composition 2 type class: it’s not too long, it’s got sci-fi, real historical culture, Afro-futurism, a strong female lead, adventure, and connections to quite a few classics of all of the above options. Reasons I liked it myself: same as before, but also the second and third volumes end up exploring the main character in more real and interesting ways than most stories of this type. Binti undergoes a traumatic several experiences in the first novella, during which she sneaks away from home to go to the best university in the universe to study math, endures an alien attack during which she witnesses the slaughter of her future classmates, manages to not get killed herself, finds a way to communicate with the Meduse (basically sentient jelly-fish)who have attacked her ship, uncovers some political cultural stuff, and then has to try and save herself and everyone else around her when they get to Oomza University.
The later two novellas add to the plot and to the historical cultural backgrounds hinted at, but also focus a lot on Binti trying to deal with her own personal traumas, and understand changes she is experiencing. This acknowledgement of the trauma of saving the world in a reasonably classic sci-fi scenario is not something you see a lot of, and here it’s front and center. Not just the difficulties involved with this, but also how to accept things about yourself that you didn’t know or that are changing are themes that work really well here and really does serve to add both to the character of Binti, some of her friends and acquaintances, and enhances certain aspects of the plot.
As an assigned reading, we’ll have to wait and see how this goes, but as a read for myself, I would have to say this is a pretty good and interesting read. It’s related to things I read but it’s also pretty different. That’s not a common thing, and that makes Binti interesting, in more than one way. It’ll make you think, but it’s also a good character study, and a pretty decent story too.