Binti Question 7 - Life and Death

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The scene where all of Binti's friends are killed on the ship going to Oozma Uni was shocking to me. I think it set a tone for the rest of the stories. Did you feel that too? Did you feel relieved that Binti survives death? Or did you feel disappointed? Why? What of her family in the Root?

Comments

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    I certainly didn't feel shock. Nor did I feel relived that she survived (I kind of assumed shoe would, given all the stories are named after her). It was too early in the book for me to feel much connection to her, so I suppose the only thing I felt was intrigue. It felt a bit authorial that Okwu was then accepted to University (skipping the whole SAT thing and all that, plus being a murderer). I did like that her experience on the ship kept coming back to haunt her in the form of PTSD. That felt legit.

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    edited December 2021

    Agree with @Apocryphal that the whole thing was too early to feel actual shock. Probably perplexity comes closer to my feelings at the first read. And about the PTSD side of things.

    The whole university thread of the plot felt quite of tacked-on-weird to me. I can accept that she gets accepted, but what for? I can't really work out what she's learning there and why, and what outcome she hopes for. Then there's the weird subplot about the aliens who mysteriously persuade her to go see them so she can do a product review?

    I guess what I'm trying to express is that I very much liked and appreciated her inventiveness (Nnedi Okorafor's I mean, not Binti's) but didn't always connect with her plot development lines.

    And to add on, yes I think I see where you're coming from with the family in the root bit - it's a kind of parallel situation to the shipmates on the ship. Only the second time round she does not see them killed, but simply assumes it on the basis of strong and credible evidence. It makes sense that she would experience it as a kind of repeat episode, even though in the end it turned out to be diametrically opposite.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    I certainly didn't feel shock. Nor did I feel relived that she survived (I kind of assumed shoe would, given all the stories are named after her). It was too early in the book for me to feel much connection to her, so I suppose the only thing I felt was intrigue. It felt a bit authorial that Okwu was then accepted to University (skipping the whole SAT thing and all that, plus being a murderer). I did like that her experience on the ship kept coming back to haunt her in the form of PTSD. That felt legit.

    Yes - the mental repercussions were handled well I thought. I also had no idea why they accepted Okwu as a student. I was shocked that Okorafor would kill those people off on an authorial level as it was so very early in the story. I thought this set a tone of authorial willingness to kill off characters which made me feel she was willing to kill Binti in the end. I was disappointed she lived, like with Podkayne of Mars in the originally released version.

    @RichardAbbott said:
    Agree with @Apocryphal that the whole thing was too early to feel actual shock. Probably perplexity comes closer to my feelings at the first read. And about the PTSD side of things.

    The whole university thread of the plot felt quite of tacked-on-weird to me. I can accept that she gets accepted, but what for? I can't really work out what she's learning there and why, and what outcome she hopes for. Then there's the weird subplot about the aliens who mysteriously persuade her to go see them so she can do a product review?

    How many first year undergrads have any idea what they are actually going for? ;)

    I guess what I'm trying to express is that I very much liked and appreciated her inventiveness (Nnedi Okorafor's I mean, not Binti's) but didn't always connect with her plot development lines.

    And to add on, yes I think I see where you're coming from with the family in the root bit - it's a kind of parallel situation to the shipmates on the ship. Only the second time round she does not see them killed, but simply assumes it on the basis of strong and credible evidence. It makes sense that she would experience it as a kind of repeat episode, even though in the end it turned out to be diametrically opposite.

    Yes - that is what I was feeling exactly!

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    Speaking for myself, I had lots of ideas as an undergrad. Most of this ideas didn’t grad school (and neither did I, having dropped out once all the ideas were sucked dry :-))
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    @Apocryphal said:
    Speaking for myself, I had lots of ideas as an undergrad. Most of this ideas didn’t grad school (and neither did I, having dropped out once all the ideas were sucked dry :-))

    Not atypical! :D

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    I thought it was trite, and while it set a tone for the beginning of the stories, by the end it had made me doubt the whole story. She is from a culture, but she seems not to have learned and understood much about it ( @Apocryphal ), and the deaths of people she knows (neighbours) seem to mean little. She runs away to school, which might speak to women's experience in patriarchal cultures, but doesn't know why. The whole thing with her not being aware her father is from another people who are looked down upon made me question her reliability as a narrator. And if she is not reliable, how can I accept that she is a master harmoniser?

    Part of the problem might be structural though - I get the feeling that there was not much back-story to the first part, and things got added as they were thought of ( @RichardAbbott ). Not enough wood-shedding.

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    As an inveterate wood shedder, I can't not agree to some degree. However, It ended up not bothering me much.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    Speaking for myself, I had lots of ideas as an undergrad. Most of this ideas didn’t grad school (and neither did I, having dropped out once all the ideas were sucked dry :-))

    Also kind of typical teenager - parents and older people in general know absolutely nothing when you're a young teenager, and only start to get a bit of intelligence when you've got through that and started to encounter adult problems...

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    edited December 2021

    @RichardAbbott said:

    @Apocryphal said:
    Speaking for myself, I had lots of ideas as an undergrad. Most of this ideas didn’t grad school (and neither did I, having dropped out once all the ideas were sucked dry :-))

    Also kind of typical teenager - parents and older people in general know absolutely nothing when you're a young teenager, and only start to get a bit of intelligence when you've got through that and started to encounter adult problems...

    Oh yes! The older I got, the smarter my father was...

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    Part of the problem might be structural though - I get the feeling that there was not much back-story to the first part, and things got added as they were thought of ( @RichardAbbott ). Not enough wood-shedding.

    I think this is the real reason. The first novella took off, so Okorafor had to do a whole bunch more world building that didn't really fit with the first story. We ended up with a character with lots of disparate features tacked on, when it would have felt more plausible if there had been some foreshadowing of them from the beginning.

    As for the original question, I was also shocked by the attack at the beginning of the book. I was starting to settle into a story about all the new friends Binti would make in Oomza, and didn't get anything like that at all!

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    @NeilNjae said:

    As for the original question, I was also shocked by the attack at the beginning of the book. I was starting to settle into a story about all the new friends Binti would make in Oomza, and didn't get anything like that at all!

    Yep! Me too!

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