Okorafor's sci-fi novella tackles sprawling ideas with little satisfactory resolution. Binti is a teenage girl from Earth, a member of the marginalized and disrespected Himba culture, and the first of her people to attend the prestigious Oomza University, located on a distant planet and home to the galaxy's finest academic minds. Midway through the voyage to the university, her ship is attacked without warning by Meduse warriors, and Binti must draw upon her unique strengths to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Okorafor draws from her rich knowledge of cultural warfare to craft nuanced commentary on how we mock "alien" peoples at our own peril; however, the plotting and characterization suffer from lack of authorial attention. Abstract concepts are introduced without warning and rarely defined to any satisfactory degree, while fascinating objects receive only the briefest descriptions, if any at all. For example, Binti's ship, a living being related to shrimp and the novella's primary setting, is never described from the outside and only vaguely on the inside. This overstuffed novella introduces too many concepts to process in a small space, muddying its otherwise laudable message. (Sept.)
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