Book Review: Binti


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really an interesting novella and deserving of all of the praise and awards it has received. I haven't read a good sci-fi book in quite a while an this one does a really great job of focusing on what I think sci-fi's strongest point really is, cultural critique and not science.

The book is told from the perspective of Binti, who comes from a tribal heritage. It is not explicitly stated where she comes from, but it is presumed to be Africa. The book covers quite a bit on topics of race, cultural differences, and family values, all while tying these anchor points back to a much larger story that expands to an interplanetary conflict. Binti is an very smart and very strong female lead character. She is known in her world as a "Harmonizer". The book never explains precisely what this is, but it is a topic that becomes important to the story as it progresses. The challenges she face progress through the novel and flow through her progression from leaving Earth to traveling to another planet. The story does a really interesting take on transferring her challenges from very relatable ones (i.e. a family not wanting her to leave her tribal land, expectations of woman and marriage) to the broader intergalactic problems, which she must deal with. 

To say any more probably would give away the story. This is simply really well told and at under 200 pages can be read fairly quickly.

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Book Review: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell

The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777 by Nicholas Cresswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found out about this book after watching the Townsends Youtube channel in which they referred to a type of dried fish. I had a surprisingly difficult time trying to find a free ebook of this.

This is a journal, plain and simple. It chronicles Nicholas Cresswell's time in colonies just as their American Revolution kicks off. The most interesting aspects of the book really are his characterization of the people in America during this time. There is distinct notes about George Washington near the end of the book that appear to reinforce the almost romanticized version American's have for the man.

Other notable things that stuck out to me are his comments regarding race relations and his observations on slavery. The passages are generally brief, but notable. In all truth though, there isn't much too this book. It is simply a unique window into the most iconic period in America's history and having that look from the side of a British citizen during the war is very interesting.


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Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant


The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

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