Like all of Okorafor's work, Binti is full of imagination, fantastic worldbuilding, and layer upon layer of cultural development and conflict. Binti hLike all of Okorafor's work, Binti is full of imagination, fantastic worldbuilding, and layer upon layer of cultural development and conflict. Binti herself is a 16-year-old harmonizer, a gifted, courageous girl and the first of her people to leave the planet. She faces alienation and racism and loneliness, but she's determined to grow and learn. She's on her way to study at Oomza Uni when her ship is attacked by the Meduse, a violent, jellyfish-like race with a vendetta against humanity.
Communication is at the heart of the story. An ancient device called an edan allows Binti to communicate with the Meduse. It's the key to everything that follows. Communication and harmony as the antidote to violence and war. It's not easy; in fact, it's terrifying and dangerous. That's part of what makes Binti's story so powerful.
The plot itself is relatively straightforward, as Binti tries first to survive the war between humans and Meduse, and then to change that war. But this isn't a story you read for the plot. You read for the beautiful characterization, the deep cultural clashes both among Binti's people and between humans and other races, and for enough fascinating ideas to fill several novels.
I finished the story wanting more, and will be waiting impatiently for a novel set in this universe....more
A quick, light-hearted, and fun fairy-tale twist, with delightful illustrations. I'll be passing this one along to my 10-year-old son for him to readA quick, light-hearted, and fun fairy-tale twist, with delightful illustrations. I'll be passing this one along to my 10-year-old son for him to read next....more
I read this one to my 10-year-old son, who goes by Jackson on the internet. So I invited him to help me review it. My questions are in bold, followedI read this one to my 10-year-old son, who goes by Jackson on the internet. So I invited him to help me review it. My questions are in bold, followed by his responses.
In your words, what is this book about?
The book is about the family, and the father is an inventor. At the beginning of the book, they run into their cousin Freddie who stole a map to a secret dragon tomb which is a tomb of the ancient Martian emperors. By the way, this is all on Mars, and it’s set in an alternate past, not an alternate future. He stole it from Sir Titus Dane, who had discovered multiple dragon tombs before, but it was proven that he stole the locations, and he actually didn’t find them. Sir Titus Dane wants to use their father’s invention, the water abacus, to decode the dragon map and find the tomb and get rich. He kidnaps their father, mother, and sister Jane. So the brother, sister, and other sister, and cousin Freddie, have to find Sir Titus and stop him. Also, Freddie is [SPOILER], and that’s pretty cool!
What did you like best about it?
I liked the funny bits, and a lot of stuff in it, like the adventure.
Who was your favorite character, and why?
Either Edward or Freddie. They’re both really cool. And Putty is pretty cool too, because she just knows absolutely everything about technology and she’s just a little kid.
What do you think about a twelve-year-old (Edward) setting out to save his family?
It was kind of like Harry Potter, but with robots instead of magic. [Note from Jim: Jackson just finished reading the Harry Potter books, so they’re on his mind a lot these days.]
Were there any parts you didn’t like?
Not really, except for the ancient Martian empire killing dragons when their owners died. I didn’t really like that, because that’s mean to the dragons.
What would be the coolest thing about visiting this Mars?
Seeing the dragons in the museums.
Who should read this book?
I think anyone who likes science fiction books should read it. Probably a lot of my friends would like it.
Do you want to read the next book in the series?
The book is aimed at younger readers like Jackson, but I enjoyed it too. Like Jackson said, there’s plenty of action, and a cast of young, smart, determined protagonists. It’s not a book that takes itself too seriously — one of the characters is named Doctor Blood. It’s more of an old-fashioned pulp-style adventure, but without the old-fashioned sexism and racism that often went with them.
Everything wraps up rather well at the end, but with plenty of possibility for the next books. I have a few guesses about what might happen next, but we’ll wait and see when book two comes out....more
Read an advance copy and loved it enough to provide the following blurb:
Levine has created a wonderful alternate 19th century, with interplanetary airRead an advance copy and loved it enough to provide the following blurb:
Levine has created a wonderful alternate 19th century, with interplanetary airships, space pirates, automatons, Martians, and a young woman determined to save her family. This book reminded me how much fun reading can be, and makes me want to take an airship to Mars.
Ambitious, powerful, and very deserving of its place on the Hugo ballot. It's not an action-packed page-turner kind of story, but I found it very engaAmbitious, powerful, and very deserving of its place on the Hugo ballot. It's not an action-packed page-turner kind of story, but I found it very engaging and interesting. Some potent insights into human nature, and plenty of "Oh, wow!" moments....more