Science Fiction is the perfect genre to explore so many different ideas. Binti and this follow up book Binti: Home are both mostly about what it means to grow up, leave home and be changed by the process so that you are not sure that you can go home again.
I read the award winning novella Binti a few weeks ago and enjoyed the followup novel just as much. Binti has been at Oomza University for about a year (she left to go to college on another world in the middle of the night without telling her family.) Her family is part of an African tribe that trades with the world, but does not leave their village.
(Spoilers for the previous book ahead.) In the previous novella, Binti’s ship was attacked on the way to college and everyone on the ship was killed except for Binti. She was able to negotiate peace with the attackers and the college world and which lead to a friendship with one of the attackers (who also had ravaged Earth in an earlier generation.) But in the process, Binti was genetically changed to become partially one of the members of that alien race, which is visibly shown by her dreadlocked hair being transformed into tentacles.
Those tentacles are the visible sign of her inability to ever return to her family and village as a normal member of her society. But what she learns once she is home is that she is far more than she thought. Her father had joined the village from a group of desert nomads. And her paternal grandmother seeks her out on her return.
I would like Benti: Home to be a bit longer and to have a follow up book immediately available. But that is just because I enjoyed the writing. I will be picking up some of Okorafor’s other novels as I wait for the next book in the series.