So for real, Binti is a terrific character and the setting is amazing and the way Nnedi Okorafor builds a whole universe and sci-fi system is breathtakingly good considering the novella doesn’t even break a hundred pages but Jesus fuck, I was not okay with how the Meduse were deferred to. They did something to Binti which she would likely have agreed to if only they’d fucking asked her, but no, they completely disrespect her bodily autonomy but are also referenced as a culture of truth and honor and no, fuck no, they’re assholes. Fuck this noble savage trope: you can absolutely respect a culture without blindly rubber stamping everything they do. It was a perspective disappointingly lacking in nuance especially in comparison with how Ms Okorafor discussed the Himba and Khoush. Furthermore, it’s this kind of shit attitude that lets predators get away with bad behavior because they’re “good” men. I expected so much better than a Stockholm Syndrome-y book that rewards fucking terrorists.
Anyway, I’m still waiting on Akata Warrior from the library and I’m really, really hoping that it improves on the rest of the stuff I’ve read from Ms Okorafor as otherwise I’m giving up on her. Settings are absolutely her forte and I love how she writes about young people learning — and God knows we need more voices outside of the white Western perspective — but her drawbacks are starting to outweigh her strengths for me. Please, please, Akata Warrior, be a novel worthy of the acclaim she’s received otherwise. I want to believe.
Read Doug’s less angry review here.