This is by far the most interesting book I’ve read all semester. Usually, I check the pages often when reading for school—Dawn by Octavia Butler was an exception. When I did check my progress, it was much faster than I expected. And I didn’t ever really fatigue of reading it or want to set it down for too long. I got lost in this story, and if you’re like me in a few ways, you probably will, too.
First, a word of caution: this book is about aliens and humans. The humans are sparse and have been isolated from one another for a long time. The humans sometimes behave like animals. The aliens are involved. If you’re 15 or younger, I’d consider waiting a while. In addition to mild (alien-involved, psychologically trippy) sex scenes, there is also violence. These elements aren’t the meat and bones of the novel, but they are present.
The thing that sucked me in from page 1 was the novel’s nature: it’s a sci-fi (arguably dystopian, though the opposite could also be asserted) written by a woman of color. It’s encouraging to see another woman in this field doing such amazing work. Butler gives just enough details that you have to augment them with your own imagination. The science fiction elements captured my attention: the way the futuristic rooms are laid out, the landscape outside of those rooms, the concept of a living ship and alien languages and different foods…I tend to be attracted to stories about humanity surviving eons after their original lifetimes. Maybe that’s why I’m so enamored with the Portal franchise…
Octavia Butler’s imaginative world does more than stimulate creativity—the tests her narrator goes through push readers to test and examine our current society. The concept of “others,” struggles of different regions and customs, and different levels of authority in the homestead are all observed. She poses human questions about community: the book’s sections, “Womb,” “Family,” “Nursery,” and “Training Ground” delineate the stages of coming into the world, but also describe Lilith’s emergence into her new environment. Should she come out of hiding? How will she get along with others? Do we really ever progress from childish disputes, or only pretend to do so? These questions are skillfully cloaked within the story.
The characters become increasingly endearing the more time we spend with them (or, if not, they are at least minimally sympathetic). One of the alien children became pretty much my favorite character in the entire book even though at times I didn’t particularly like this character. The impact of what’s happened to humanity in the book didn’t really kick in for me until the last page; but it left me feeling depressed. This book will entertain you and make you think; but if you don’t want to think too much, take it in doses. 🙂
Well, that’s about it for this review. Let me know what you’re reading or what you want to read next!