A Novel

Book - 2005 | 1st ed
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Publisher: New York : Seven Stories Press, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 317 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9781583226902


From Library Staff

In this sci-fi social commentary, Shori is a 53-year-old Ina (a juvenile) who wakes up in a cave, amnesiac and seriously wounded. As is later revealed, her family and their symbionts were murdered because they genetically engineered a generation of part-Ina, part-human children. Shori was their m... Read More »

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Apr 06, 2021

This is the second of Butler's books that I've read and while two is hardly a decent sample size to gauge an author's work, I do think she conceives really engaging stories. The pacing is quick and easy to read, and I think she does a good job weaving contemporary social issues in to some pretty fantastic storylines. Fledgling in particular, invented it's own vampire mythos that forced it readers to think critically about sexual politics and the nature of consent. In addition, the protagonist, Shori, is a black vampire and through her, the readers are able to explore ongoing racial prejudice and inequality.

Where the book strikes out is in character and exposition. Shori is almost too perfect, especially for a child with amnesia. Her mature temperament and ability to outsmart adult vampires despite her lack of understanding of their norms and customs felt contrived and made her less interesting as a character. In contrast, the villains of this series are so careless and sloppy that it grows harder to take them seriously as adversaries as the story progresses. This is doubly unfortunate as it means the final third of the book holds little tension. Even the villain's prejudice against Shori's race is not shared by most other vampires, further isolating the villains and sealing their fate.

Also, I wish that Butler had relied less on plot exposition to build her narrative. It makes the story feel prescriptive and gives the reader less to think about. I acknowledge that I'm saying this as a white woman who has never experienced systematic racism or racial prejudice. I realize that both the book and it's creator were likely held to an unrealistic standard by individuals desperate for any evidence that racism died with the march on Selma. It can be scary to give readers space to explore the content themselves instead of explicitly telling them how to regard certain characters and plot points. However, being overly prescriptive weakens the book as a whole, and discourages readers from thinking critically about what Butler was trying to say.

All in all I'd say it's a quick, easy read and a welcome addition to vampire fiction. You can read it in a week and consider with some interesting questions about sexual politics and racial inequality. I just wish Butler had eased up on the reigns a bit and let the characters learn and grow, and the readers learn and grow with them.

Jul 19, 2020

I love Octavia Butler and this is my fifth book of hers that I've read. That said, it's by far my least favorite.
The premise is very interesting, in that it's not your traditional vampire story. Vampires build communities, they are not the monsters that we've learned that they are, they are peaceful beings who are trying to live in a world where they are outnumbered by humans and have been dying off.
There are some things that happen very quickly that will probably make the reader uncomfortable. It did for me, but I recognized it and figured that was intentional. However, there was one thing that happened I just couldn't get past: the pedophilia. I understand this is explained away and is consensual, but it still made me very, very, uncomfortable. it continued throughout the book, and it just made me cringe every time.
The other issue I had was that while we know the main character's true age (eventually), her story is told using words and phrases of someone much younger (like an 11 year old). If we're supposed to suspend our disbelief that she looks MUCH younger than she actually is, why does she think and speak like a young child? Butler doesn't usually write like this, so this also seemed deliberate to me, and I couldn't figure out why.

Jun 24, 2020

A young girl regains consciousness in a cave. She's terribly wounded, including a fracture to her skull, but has no recollection of who she is or what had happened to her. Wandering out onto a road she's picked up by Wright, a man who discovers quickly (and rather disturbingly) that she is prooooooobably not quite the human girl she appears to be. His rudimentary knowledge of folklore suggests she's a vampire, albeit one with wholesale amnesia and whose origins are a mystery.

This is a book that pushes a number of boundaries and will likely make some readers uncomfortable. Suspension of disbelief, in multiple capacities, is a must. I enjoyed it, though frankly not as well as I'd hoped, given my past experiences with Butler's work.

JCLCassandraG Sep 03, 2019

I really love Octavia Butler and this book is good because it's got all the hallmarks of one of her books--super beautifully written, enigmatic characters, a world fleshed out to the nines. But I'd suggest readers new to Butler start with Kindred or the Earthseed books if they're not huge vampire fans, especially because Butler's meditations on our world come through a really uncomfortable series of relationships and things didn't hold my attention as they usually would.

Aug 05, 2019

A unique spin on vampires! Thoroughly enjoyed it. This is my second book by Butler, and love her writing style.

I generally love vampire lore and have read books by different authors including the entire series by Anne Rice. This was very different. A little more realistic than others.

A child vampire (50 years old), who's genetically altered and can now withstand sunlight (the alteration also making her black) wakes up in a cave with amnesia. She now has to relearn everything about her kind and why others are after her.

Nov 05, 2017

im just starting to get into sci fi and octavia butlers work. i could not put this one down, it was very captivating, i felt like i knew the characters very well.

Aug 19, 2017

An excellent read. Starts out as a creepy horror story, but became a fascinating revelation of a re-imagined vampire race.

Mar 09, 2017

The best "Vampire" novel I have ever read. Will read again and again

Aug 19, 2014

I really loved this book. I really, really admire the way Octavia butler is able to design such complex settings for her charcters and how the family setting becomes so much more than parents and child. When you read you feel knots in your stomach because your like how does something so intricate and complicated work, how could it work in real life.

She always makes you think and examine your own life and the ideas and morals you belive to be true when she presents her work insuch a natural way, as if the structure of the chacters lives are something normal, and nothing to really blink at.

Nov 27, 2013

I enjoyed the characters and the plot alike, but did she really need to be 11?

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Nov 05, 2017

Equal thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Bookworm9207 Aug 19, 2014

Bookworm9207 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Amandatoryrant Jul 09, 2012

Amandatoryrant thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Gunter_the_penguin1234 Jun 14, 2012

Gunter_the_penguin1234 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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