Book Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Published September 2015 by Tor.com|90 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Binti #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

I really liked Binti!  Okorafor also has really interesting sci-fi, and Binti was no exception.

So, Binti gets accepted into a university, which means she’s at odds with her family, since they believe in staying at home, and not going away for school.  Something about that seemed very familiar and it was easy to relate to Binti as she had to deal with what people thought she was like because of where she was from.  I really liked the message of accepting people’s differences, and that differences are something that we should celebrate and be more accepting of.

I really wish we saw more of Binti’s Harmonizer abilities.  It came up, of course, but not in a lot of detail.  That isn’t surprising, considering it’s a novella.  I would have liked more of how great at math she is.

As much as I liked Binti, I thought it could have been longer and expanded on.  It looks like there are two more books after this one, so there’s more to read (and I will be reading them) in this series.  Maybe those are a little bit longer, but it was too short for me to really get into it.  Looking back, it felt like a rough outline that needed to be filled in with more detail and world-building.

You get enough to have a general idea of what the world is like, but I think I just wanted more.  Okorafor creates these very vivid worlds, and while Binti is no exception, it wasn’t to the level I usually expect with her books.  The quality is there, but it’s the length that hurt it a little.

4 stars.  I really liked the world and the characters, but I wish it was a little bit longer.

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Audio Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Book: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Narrated by Full Cast

Published April 2016 by Random House Audio|Length: 8 hours, 28 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: Themis Files #1

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth – and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved – its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery – and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I really liked Sleeping Giants!  It was one of those books I tried reading ages ago, before realizing I’d like it a lot better as an audio book.  I’m glad I switched to the audio, because I really liked the audio book.

I think the comparison to World War Z and The Martian is actually a pretty good one.  The interviews and such we see in Sleeping Giant did make me think of World War Z and The Martian, and I think the fact that it’s told through interviews translated really well to audio.  And why I struggled with it when I tried reading it in print.

I really liked seeing all of the people involved in trying to figure out the giants.  It’s definitely a mystery, and I feel like you really get to know the characters.  Because of how the story is told, you don’t get the inner thoughts of the character, and you do see things from a distance, but even then, I still felt like I got to know the characters and what they wanted.  Even the interviewer, and he somehow seemed more anonymous, which meant I was more intrigued with him than with anyone else.

There is a lot of backstory that we don’t get.  There are all of these different files, but some are skipped over- we’ll go from, say, File #12 to File #23.  It means there’s a lot that we don’t get, and I’m wondering if we’ll get more in the books to come.

I also really liked the idea of the novel.  I mean, a giant hand is discovered and they’re trying to figure out what it means, and how it got buried on earth?  What’s not to like?  I just want to know what it all means.  I guess I’ll have to listen to book 2 to find out.

As for the narration, I really liked it!  World War Z is the only book I’ve listened to that had a full cast, and wasn’t narrated by 1 or 2 people.  I liked that it had multiple narrators, because it really made each person distinct.  I mean, I wasn’t completely paying attention to who was who, but I did like all of the narrators, and thought that they each had their own voice and personality.

4 stars.  I really liked Sleeping Giants, and I especially liked it as an audio book.  I know certain files were skipped over, and I kind of wish that we knew what happened in those gaps, and that we knew more about the mysterious interviewer.  But overall, it’s a pretty interesting story.