I was set an e-galley by the publisher.
A young woman is accepted to university but her family don’t want her to go. Sounds like a familiar story… but the university is off-world, Binti’s people don’t tend to leave even their particular patch of Earth, and there’s a whole mess of trouble awaiting her on the journey.
I liked Binti as a person. I liked her strength and vulnerability and that while she disregarded her family’s wishes, it didn’t feel rebellious or anarchic: it was so that she could be the very best she could, and bring that back to her people and family to benefit them. I especially liked that this was a young woman whose talents were in maths; the description of ‘treeing’ as she followed mathematical equations down rabbit holes is enchanting.
I had to go look up the Himba people, and indeed they are a real group of people in Namibia, who do use an ochre paste on their skin and hair. I really like that verisimilitude in Okorafor’s work, and the suggestion that a semi-nomadic group of people in Nambia could have a story written about them involving space travel? Who’d have thought! (/sarcasm)
There’s a great big galaxy here of which Okorafor has barely scratched the surface. I rather hope she returns; I think this would make an excellent YA novel, or series (the idea of an entire planet as a university, that still manages to have lakes and forests? Awesome).
Binti will be on-sale September 22 in ebook, paperback & audio over at Tor.com.