Book Review: Binti: Home And Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Published January 2017 by Tor.com|164 pages

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

Series: Binti #2

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she abandoned her family in the dawn of a new day.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

I liked this one!  Not as much as Binti, and I didn’t love it.  I wanted to love it, but it didn’t capture my attention the way Binti did.

I liked seeing what was going on with Binti, and the journey she took with her grandmother.  I did like seeing how much things had changed for her, and how differently people saw her because of everything that happened in the previous book.

Still, I felt like what actually happened in the book does not match up with how the book is described in the blurb.  I thought we’d be seeing more of Okwu on earth and working with humans for peace.  Instead, we get a completely different story involving Binti realizing that’s more special and different than we could ever imagine.  She’s great at math, and has alien DNA, and this novella added another element to how special Binti was.  I don’t mind when characters are super-special, but in Binti: Home, it really bothered me for some reason.

So, I felt like this one was more of an afterthought.  Binti (the first novella) felt like a pretty complete story and was pretty contained.  This one, not so much.  It somehow seemed more rushed and much more of a rough outline than the previous novella.  Even though it’s longer than Binti, I wanted more development with the characters and the world.  Particularly with this book.  It kind of makes me wonder what Okorafor would do with the idea if it had been a novel from the very beginning.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I like the character and the world she lives in.  It has a lot of potential, but I think the novella format is working against the story, because it could definitely be expanded into something a lot longer.

Book: Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Published January 2018 by Tor.com|208 pages

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

Series: Binti #3

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene–though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don’t miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

I thought The Night Masquerade was okay.  I’ve liked this series to varying degrees, and even though I liked seeing how Binti tried to make peace between the Meduse and the Khoush, I still didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

One of my issues with this trilogy is how short each volume is.  I know they’re meant to be novellas, but I just wanted something longer.  There’s a lot that could be expanded on and developed, and Night Masquerade is no exception.

There was something towards the end that seemed randomly introduced, and I don’t know that it worked.  The series has been fine with no romance- I really liked that there was no romance and I liked seeing how much the events of the first novella changed Binti’s life.  I liked seeing her go back home and try to get things resolved between the Meduse and the Khoush.  I liked seeing how people saw her differently because she not only went away to school but because she was Meduse as well.

I didn’t care for the romance at all.  It felt sudden, and though it sort of makes sense, I also was fine without it.

I know people love this series, and Okorafor is pretty amazing.  She creates these amazing worlds, but with this book in particular, I kind of feel like novellas are too short of a format for her.  It’s nice to see her do something slightly different, but part of me wishes I had just read Binti and not continued on with the series.  I don’t regret seeing it through to the end, but I had a hard time with the length.

It’s not the book at all- I really do think it’s just me.  Maybe I’m just too used to reading her novels and that’s why I had a hard with the novella.  It would be interesting to read a full-length version of these stories, because there’s a lot she could explore in Binti’s world.

My Rating: 2 stars.  I wanted to like this one more but the length didn’t work for me.  I don’t know that I’m necessarily the right audience for this book, and even though there were things I didn’t like, I do really like the world she created.

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Book Review: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente

Six-Gun Snow White CoverBook: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente

Published November 2015 by Saga Press|128 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Western/Fairy-Tale Re-Telling/Novella

Blog Graphic-What It's About

A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents—a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother’s death in childbirth, so begins a heroine’s tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Six-Gun Snow White sounded really good and different, and I was pretty excited about reading it, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

It’s an interesting take on Snow White, and I like that it’s a western, because that seems pretty rare for YA.  And yet, I felt really distanced from what was going on, which made it hard to get into.  I felt like I was being told what was going on, instead of seeing what was going on, and it felt like it was being told to me by a third party, instead of Snow White herself.

The ending was a cop-out!  It felt very slapped together and like there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it.  Which I thought was odd, because it otherwise felt like a thought of thought went into the story.  It also felt very halting, and it was a little hard to get through.

As a re-telling, it does follow the original story of Snow White pretty well, but in a different setting and time period. How Snow White got her name was sad, and I felt like it was a dig on the step-mother’s part.  There are some differences, of course, but overall, I thought she did a fantastic job re-telling it, with Prince Charming as a horse, and with the dwarves as women.  As a western, though, I couldn’t get into it all.

I can’t speak to how accurate all of the Native American stories we see in the novella are, but Snow as half-white and half-Crow Indian was a different take on the original story, and why Snow White getting the name of Snow White was sad.  There is a lot of abuse and racism in the novella, so it’s probably closer to the Grimm version of the story then any other book out there.  It’s darker than I expected, and given how the story is written, novella length is probably the perfect length for it.

I had a hard enough time getting through it, and at one point, I was dangerously close to not finishing it, even though it’s not that long.  But since it’s not long, I figured I could tough it out and finish it.  Because of the length, though, you don’t get a lot of details, which could have been really interesting.  It does make me wonder what this novella could be if it were novel-length, but not if it were written the way the novella is.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I thought about giving it one star, but it gets two because the book as a re-telling was really really good, but how it was told didn’t work for me.

Mini Book Review: Broken Beauty

Broken Beauty CoverNovella: Broken Beauty by Lizzie Ford (as Chloe Adams)

Expected Publication is September 22, 2013 by Indie Inked|Expected Number Of Pages: 78

Series: Broken Beauty Novellas #1

Genre: New Adult Contemporary

You can find Broken Beauty on Goodreads and Lizzie Ford on Facebook and Twitter

Broken Beauty is an e-ARC from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Goodreads Summary: **Contains graphic content and the sensitive topic of rape and its aftermath. Not intended for teens under the age of 18.**

Sometimes bad things happen to beautiful people.

When socialite party girl Mia Abbott-Renou wakes up in a garden she has little recall of the previous night — except that she is naked…hurt…terrified. Not only has she been raped, but she knows one of her assailants: the son of a wealthy politician who happens to be her own father’s political ally.

Mia wants and needs justice. Except this privileged boy has an alibi and her father forbids her from going to the police. It’s a critical election year, one that his party might lose if his image as a doting father is soured due to Mia being labeled a lush or worse, promiscuous.

Devastated at not having the support of her family, Mia finds herself in a tug-of-war with her conscience over what to do, especially since she can’t remember exactly what happened that night. Worse, the men who attacked her have hurt several other girls, and Mia may be the key to stopping them.

Mia tries to forget, until the unthinkable happens, and she’s left reeling once again, faced with a new challenge that will force her to take more control of her life.

Broken Beauty is so heartbreaking and beautiful, all at the same time.  I couldn’t help for feel for Mia, who has been through a lot in this novella.

Her father (and several other people) were really irritating- and I think they were supposed to be.  Her father, who is against birth control and abortion, believes that women who are raped can’t get pregnant, so he won’t give his consent for Mia to have the morning-after pill. Clearly, Mia’s experience won’t change his mind.  And imagine Mia’s confusion and anger when she gets pregnant, after believing that it’s not possible.  Also irritating was the “spin” that was put on her rape.  It’s pretty much being used as a way to make her dad look good with certain segments of the voting population, and that really made me irritated with him.  it’s pretty infuriating.  It also seems like he favors her step-siblings (especially her step-sister) and you have to wonder what his reaction would be if it happened to his other daughter.

Mia’s experience felt very real, and you’re with her every step of the way.  Almost like you’re right there with Mia- and I think it’s because of Adams’ own experience.  It made it hard to read at times, because it’s very haunting, and very, very believable.  It makes you wonder how much of Mia’s story mirrors Adams.

The one thing I didn’t like about Broken Beauty is that I read it expecting a complete story.  I wasn’t expecting it to be the first of 6 installments that will be released over the next year, so it ended pretty abruptly.

And I know this is sort of nit-picky, but I found that the “arrangements” for Mia volunteering at Saint Mary’s Women’s Shelter to be irritating.  I know appearances can be everything, particularly in an election, but to me, it seemed like it was implied that a woman’s shelter would turn Mia away as a volunteer because she’s Baptist.  It’s possible that I’m reading too much into it but that’s the impression I got from that scene.

Final Thoughts:

Broken Beauty is heartbreaking and infuriating and beautiful, all at the same time.  I was so irritated with some of the people surrounding Mia, and I couldn’t help but feel for her and I found myself wishing that it had never happened to her. Unfortunately, I wasn’t expecting Broken Beauty to be the first of six installments, and I found that it was hard to give Broken Beauty the higher rating it deserves because of that.  Broken Beauty gets 4 stars.