It’s only 94 pages, but Binti is the perfect size to read in an afternoon. The plot starts quickly, with Binti deciding to leave home against her family’s wishes. She’s special in more ways than one, which has earned her a scholarship to university. Deciding to attend makes her the first of her kind to do so.
With that context given in the first several pages, readers know that Binti is special. It’s during an awful massacre that she comes into her full potential.
I quite enjoyed Binti because it had very familiar echoes of contemporary sociopolitical dynamics. That said, I’m not sure the science fiction dynamic was executed as well as I’d hoped. Yes, much of it took place on a ship with different breeds of people. There was even a theme of mathematics, throughout the novella. That said, it could easily have been the first traditional African student accepted to some elite college in a far and unfamiliar land.
That last point is necessarily a bad thing– at the very least, it illustrates how easy it could be to incorporate themes of diversity into science fiction and fantasy literature. Moreover, it emphasizes how lazy it is that people continue to write stories with themes of the “other” without taking the time to fully examine the parallels to real life racial discourse. It’s a great commentary because it’s not the least bit subtle.
Where has subtly ever gotten us, anyway?
You should all read Binti. It’s not long, nor is it a difficult read. I’d consider it a great starter book for people who would like to explore science fiction without delving into some of the more popular and intricate books & series. My only strong criticism is in the mathematics, which seemed haphazardly tossed in. People with much stronger mathematics backgrounds than this AP Statistics flunker have also found that aspect lackluster. Luckily, it didn’t detract from the story, which was otherwise well written with vivid characters.
Read Binti— soon– because it’s actually called Binti #1. Y’all don’t want to be left behind, right?
Have you read Binti? Have any more sci-fi or fantasy recommendations for me with people of color featured? Let me know in the comments!