Review: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

bintihomeSeries: Binti #2
Published by: Macmillan-Tor/Forge
ISBN: 0765393107
ISBN 13: 9780765393104
Published: January 2017
Pages: 160
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

The second in the series, this novella-length piece continues Binti’s story. In the first, we meet Binti who is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University – an amazing place of study that has a human population of 5%. To say that leaving her family and her people behind is hard is an understatement, it simply isn’t done and there’s little chance of going back thanks to the shame she’s now brought her family for leaving, and utterly ruining her marriage prospects. This is soon the least of her worries though, as the journey to the uni takes a turn for the worst no one could have expected…

We now see Binti a year on from the first in the series, and she’s learnt utterly amazing things during her time at the university. She finds maths soothing (such a foreign concept to me) though this is quickly turned on its head as it does something she’s not expecting. From this, she decides she needs to return home to complete her pilgrimage and she’ll take her friend, Okwu home with her, as an ambassador for their people thanks to the recent peace treaty – none of Okwu’s people have been on Earth since the war (more than one hundred years ago) and from what we see in the first 15 pages… perhaps Okwu’s nature isn’t exactly the type to take on a first trip home…

As we saw in the first book, Okorafor’s words are beyond amazing. In such a short novella we get such a masterpiece of worldbuilding and character study – reversing what we saw in the first of a coming-of-age novel to now the what does it mean to go home, what does home mean, and what does it mean to be family – especially when cultures are involved where family means so much. Both are powerful pieces, and Binti herself is a joy to behold.

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

gildedcagevicSeries: Dark Gifts #1
Published by: Del Rey
ISBN: 0425284158
ISBN 13: 9780425284155
Published: February 2017
Pages: 368
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

Set in an alternate history, we have England ruled by the elite in an entirely different way – they are blessed with magic, and those not of the elite families must serve ten years hard labour – the only mercy is that they may choose in their life when this servitude takes place. Unless you’re under age, such as Luke is, and your parents decide for you. At first it seems to be survivable, as his intelligent older sister has managed to get them into the royal household to perform what they assume will be lighter duties… that is until it turns out that there was no work to be found for him, and he is sent to the warehouse district instead. It is there, that he discovers true hardship.

The book itself is split into parts, and told from a few perspectives – that of the noble-born sons, Luke, Abi (the intelligent older sister) and this is done well, as it’s not common to see the tone and and choice of words changing so effortlessly between characters – this works very well indeed, and I wish we saw more of it in general.

The characters also seem well developed and all are interesting, especially those Luke meets in his new and sudden future. Somehow, though I’m usually the first to adore character-driven novels and although I can’t think of any issues with any of them entirely, I somehow didn’t feel overly connected with any of the characters. Perhaps something was missing, but I can’t quite tell why I didn’t love them all than I do.

The plot is good and interesting, the injuries and consequences the characters face were believable, and overall it had good pacing and interesting arcs that kept me reading.

Overall it’s a good start to the series, and I’m invested in finding out what happens next. With the introduction and worldbuilding now set, I hope that we get more depth to the history and magic system as some parts felt a little inconsistent, but I could be judging harshly. The writing itself is good, which makes this readable despite minor quibbles.