On the Third Fish, I had accidently found myself in the middle of something. This time I was that middle.
It’s hard to believe it (where is time going) but I have been writing about Binti and her adventures for two years. Now, it’s time to say goodbye with the third novella—The Night Masquerade—which is out now and ends this award-winning trilogy.
Last time we saw Binti and her partner, the Meduse Okwu, they were both back on Earth but separated—Binti had been on a quest of self-discovery amongst her Father’s people when Okwu was attacked by the Meduse’s human enemy, the Khoush. Worried about her family back at her village, Binti and her new friend Mwinvi (a fellow harmoniser) make their journey back hoping to prevent more death and loss and counting on her elders for help, expecting her family to still be alive.
It’s hard to talk about this novella without choking up a bit, thinking of that first-novella and the bright-eye girl who simply dared to want to go to college in a different planet without realising her life would never be the same again—and in many different ways, too. Being a harmoniser, standing in the middle of many intersections and identities, Binti has so much to deal with in this novella. From standing up to her elders to discovering all the different sides of herself, from learning more about her father’s culture and her mother’s own abilities to understanding and incorporating not only that knowledge but all those different technologies—that meet and conflate within herself.
There are also friendships—old and new—and a bit of a romantic storyline, lots of gore and Moments of Truth, leading to the understanding that Binti, as unique and powerful as she is, is still one girl standing in the middle of all that came before her. There is freedom in that as much as there is heartbreak.
One of the things I haven’t talked about yet in these reviews of the Binti novellas is the futuristic universe and the world-building that Nnedi Okorafor has created. Expanding from existing cultures and creating new ones, intermingling them all with super cool technology, this universe is worth exploring. The only downside is that there doesn’t seem to be enough of it—three novellas don’t seem to be just quite sufficient to address all that happened to Binti (especially in this last chapter). I’ve got a taste for more, what can I say?
A novella of heart-breaking betrayals, unthinkable loss, life-altering events and of sustained hope, Binti: The Night Masquerade is the culmination of the story of a girl who looked up at the sky and dreamed of more. And through her dreaming of more, Binti has accomplished interstellar travels, going where no other Himba girl had gone before, communing with others while still, essentially, remaining Binti.
In Booksmugglerish: 8 out of 10.