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Binti has just finished her first year of classes and is still getting used to living so far from home -- and still growing accustomed to the transformations she's had to go through. Now she is headed home to Earth, accompanied by her friend, Okwu, one of the warlike Meduse aliens, who is attempting -- with very limited success -- to acclimate to the other species of the galaxy.
But Binti's homecoming to Africa is strained. Her family, like the rest of the Himba people, are very traditional -- only a few ever venture far from home, and Binti traveling completely off the planet -- and causing some financial hardship at home -- leaves her even more of an outcast. But to her surprise, she learns that there are people even more outcast than the Himba, and after she makes a pilgrimage to meet them, she learns of their unexpected connections to her.
This is another truly wonderful story by Okorafor, with excellent characterization and deepening mysteries about Binti's background and abilities. It's nice to get a closer look at Binti's family and community, and her quest balances on the edge between weird science and weirder mythology.
There's a lot less for Okwu to do in this story, but what he does, he does very well. On one hand, he's deeply angry and usually just on the edge of committing spectacular violence. On the other, he often seems to be better in control of his emotions than anyone else -- aware of when he's angry and able, with only a little persuasion, to either stifle his rage or withdraw to a safe location. And his worshipful attitude when he discovers how plentiful water is on Earth is a beautiful thing to see. He's a bizarre, jellyfish alien, but he makes a perfect traveling companion for Binti.
If you loved the first novella in this series, it's certain you'll want to pick this book up, too.
Once settled in at her parents’ abode, Binti finds much pain, anger and hatred surrounding her escape to attend school. She is far too unlike the Hinti people, whose passions are focused on staying on planet, introspection, and duty to family. Her eldest sister is furious at her, claiming that her leaving is the root of her father’s malady and that she has totally abandoned her culture. Binti loses her best friend Dede, who has immersed himself in the old ways, now despises her for her apparent abandonment of her culture. The people of her village she hears speaking cruelly and maliciously about her and her family. Her parents, who really do love Binti and want her to be happy, are at a total loss as to how to help her.
Despite an intriguing story line, there is very little character development. Most of the book is focused on Binti herself and her further development. I found the end of the book to be too much like a cliffhanger from a soap opera with far too much left too unresolved. It was as if it was Christmas and there were too many presents still unpacked and the room chocked full of shredded wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and gift cards. I found myself lost in the details too much. I gave this book 3 stars simply because when I compared it to its predecessor , it did not measure up. It is still an enjoyable read, but be prepared to be left hanging with your feet dangling at the end.
Friends and family members turn their back on her. Then she is prevented from going on the pilgrimage by the arrival of members of a desert people who the Himba have always looked down on. They take her into the desert to explain their history to her. Her father is one of the them but he turned his back on them to become Himba. Again we get into questions of identity. Binti was raised to stay in her own community. Her world keeps expanding against her will.
While she is in the desert, her family and Okwa are attacked. Now she has to try to make her way back to see if anyone survived.
This was my favorite of the series. Binti is pushing through the boundaries that have been set for a woman of her age and tribe. As she grows, there is a ripple effect in her community.