The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think I liked this third Binti book better than the prior two novellas... but why?
For one, I think I liked the theme about going home, having conflicts WITH home, and in this third novella, Binti coming to grips with herself and her place in the universe.
It helps that she had to go through a ton of tragedy to get there. But that's the nature of storytelling. Conflict is everything.
Culturally, these books make up some of the strangest pieces of worldbuilding I've read. We've got an isolated African community intermixed with high-tech and alien-tech additions. There's also the greater galactic community full of inclusive aliens and the whole theme of excluding and including is rife throughout these stories.
How can the community be so closed-minded in one way while LIVING with an invasive alien for who knows how long? But that's the core of it, reaching right into Binti herself and everyone she knows.
And then there's the thing happens to her.
I really like the worldbuilding and the direction this one took. I mean, I REALLY like how it comes together. The SF in this SF satisfied the SF geek in me. :)
So why didn't I give it a 5 star? It's possible that while I appreciated the cultural weirdness on one level, I had a really hard time ENJOYING it. The alien and the Alien just kept coming back at me in a way that kinda clashed. Hard. I like how it explained itself, later, but I getting there took an uncomfortably long time.
That's on me.
Maybe I just have a hard time with the low-tech and downright strange customs -- read, superstitions -- STILL remaining as an OVERWHELMINGLY large part of this well-educated and smart girl's life. Look, maybe it's realistic to paint all your skin while doing tensor math in your head, getting on the WWW with your implants while putting up with your misogynic tribe members. Maybe it isn't. Maybe having gone to a galactic college and meeting tons of aliens and cultures should have LESSENED some of those old acceptances and traditions.
But then, maybe it's just Binti. She has a really open mind in so many ways but she doesn't apply the logic to herself well at all. A Master Harmonizer? Is this what it means? To be finding full harmony between her old life and her new? Helping others do the same? Sure. I LIKE this idea. But it gets very complicated very quickly. Because by being a person of two worlds, you often become part of none.
--The point of the novellas, I'm sure. --
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