This is my second attempt at posting these reviews. The first time the schedule post appeared blank. I nearly died! Three reviews gone?! WHYYYYY?!?! But luckily for me I had posted copies of the reviews on Amazon, NetGalley or Goodreads. Life lesson: always, always save, back things up and double check scheduled posts. 😦
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Release date: September 22nd, 2015
Genre: Science fiction, novella
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
Binti was short and pretty straightforward plot wise, but Nnedi Okorafor’s writing was another thing altogether. I can best describe it as complex and imaginative. For being less than 100 pages long, Binti featured fantastic world building, character development and lots of conflict that hooked my interest from the very first paragraph.
The story is about Binti, a courageous and extremely intelligent young woman. She’s a member of the Himba, a group of people who excel in mathematics and science, but are marginalized and discriminated against because of their skin colour and cultural beliefs. After being accepted to study at the prestigious Oomza Uni, Binti becomes the first of her people to leave Earth to study with individuals from around the galaxy. While on her way to the university, her spaceship is attacked by the Meduse, a jellyfish-like race who murder everyone aboard the ship except for Binti.
What I loved about the story was its message of using communication as a way to reach an understanding and to prevent violence and war. Initially, Binti was unable to communicate with the Meduse. This caused fear, tension and hatred. However, once she discovered that she could use an accent item called an edan to speak with the Meduse things began to change. Communication was the key to the story and I think it’s a wonderful message. People fear what they do not know or understand. This can lead to ignorance that fuels hate and violence. Binti’s way of handling a difficult situation sent a very powerful message.
I just wish that the story was longer. The ending left me wanting more but I was lucky enough to be able to move directly onto the sequel, Home. Sometimes there are benefits to discovering something a tiny bit later than everyone else.
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Home by Nnedi Okorafor
Release date: January 31st, 2017
Genre: Science fiction, novella
It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.
And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.
But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.
After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?
Home was a fantastic followup to a creative and interesting novella. The short story picks up where its predecessor left off. Binti has now been studying mathematics at Oomza Uni for close to a year. However, Binti and Okwu (her Meduse friend) have been having difficulties adapting to their new environment. Okwu is constantly one step away from unleashing untold violence on its weapons instructor and Binti is struggling to come to terms with what she experienced when her spaceship was attacked by the Meduse. She cycles between moments of panic and pure rage. In an effort to cleanse herself of these impure feelings, Binti returns home to face her family and embark on a sacred Himba pilgrimage.
While the theme of the first novella was communication, change and acceptance were the main ideas of Home. Binti struggles to unite who she was with the person she is now. Her journey to Oomza Uni, the mass murder on the spaceship and her interactions with the Meduse have altered how she views herself and the world. She’s seen and done things that none of her people have ever experienced. While her family welcome her back, she’s still an outsider, they aren’t sure if they can really trust her. They don’t understand why she left. This and her struggle with PTSD made my heart ache for Binti. I honestly don’t know how she could be friends with Okwu after what it and the Meduse did. But this is one of the many reasons why I adore Binti, she’s resourceful and strong. She doesn’t let the past destroy her future.
One of the things I found very interesting was how Binti was forced to confront her own prejudices. When taken away to be taught about her edan by the desert people, Binti treats them the way her people are treated, with destain and disgust. They are different from her, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less, they just believe and do things in a different way. One group of people are not more or less than any other, a message needed now more than ever.
I considered rating this book higher, but the cliffhanger ending rubbed me the wrong way. It wasn’t the complete story I was expecting. If anything it felt like once the story started going it was cut off. Yes, it’s done the job of getting me really excited for the followup, but I would have been anyway. Besides the ending, all I can say is that Nnedi Okorafor’s writing is phenomenal, creative and emotional…I cannot recommend it enough. You really need to go read these two books yourself!
Assassin’s Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden
Release date: November 15th, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft Publishing
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
An endless conflict. An old wrong. A new revelation.
Simon Hathaway, member of the Templar Inner Sanctum, brings a cool head and detached manner to his new role as Head of Abstergo Industry’s Historical Research Division.
But Simon also has an insatiable curiosity, and is fascinated by the thought of experiencing history first-hand through his ancestor–Gabriel Laxart, who fought alongside the legendary Joan of Arc.
When he enters the newly-designed Animus for its initial project, Simon finds himself unprepared for what he discovers: How deep the conflict between the Templars and the Assassins goes. What Gabriel will do for the woman he both loves and reveres.
And the most dangerous truth of all: Who is the heretic…and who is the true believer.
This is the first book I’ve read from the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I love the video games but went into the book with low expectations. In my experience, video game spinoffs such as books and movies are usually a let down. They just can’t capture what made the game so much fun. But I was so, so wrong! I found myself completely enthralled by its mixture of the present, history events and political intrigue.
If you are unfamiliar with the video games, they are about two secret orders, the Templars and the Assassins, who are searching for ancient items that hold the key to human behaviour and free will. Even though the two orders are looking for the same items, they want to use them for different things. The Templars want to control human behaviour in order to create peace, while the Assassins believe in free will. This has led to centuries of conflict. In order to learn more about the ancient artefacts, the orders use an advanced piece of technology called the Animus to venture into the past using their genetic memories.
What I loved about the book was how it totally immersed you in the story. I felt like I was right there with the characters, especially in the Animus scenes that featured Joan of Arc. It was just like the video game! Joan and her story has always fascinated me. I cannot tell you how many research projects I wrote in school about her, so I was very pleased that she was the historical focus of the novel. The pacing was quite quick and the author didn’t waste anytime getting into the story. I was never bored and had difficulty putting down the story. I just wanted to keep on reading well into the night. What really made this book stand out was that it was written from the Templar point of view. The video games usually feature a character who is an Assassin. It was interesting to see how the “enemy” views things and totally gave me a new perspective on the Templar order.
I’m so happy that I gave it a chance. It was full of surprises. I’m now going to dive into the other Assassin’s Creed books that I’ve had sitting on my Kindle for ages. 🙂