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Binti

3/5. Young woman from an insular, impliedly African culture leaves Earth against her parents's wishes to accept a scholarship. On the way, her ship is attacked by aliens.

Scant, interesting novella about the costs and rewards of cultural interchange, and different kinds of cultural violence. Worth reading for that, but I was honestly more interested in the *gestures* more diffuse experience of reading this. When witness to the violent deaths of her new friends, the heroine closes her eyes, holds still, and prays. Which is not the way I am accustomed to the heroines of SF reacting. Binti's heroism is subtler, more complex and interconnected than being able to steal a weapon and shoot back. Which is partly about her as a character, and partly about the cultural milieu of this novella, which is very different than what I'm used to. I liked it.
lightreads: a partial image of a etymology tree for the Indo-European word 'leuk done in white neon on black'; in the lower left is (Default)
Zahrah the Windseeker Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A thirteen-year-old girl journeys into the forbidden greeny jungle to find a cure to save her best friend. Along the way she develops her magic and does some growing up.

It's a very simple story – girl marked by difference takes the first steps into adulthood – and younger than I usually like my young adult. But it's sweet and fun, and the world building is great (computers grown on trees! A dietary supplement for charisma!). And it does make me happy to remember there actually are young adult books with brown-skinned protagonists out there. Astonishing, I know.

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