April 29, 2006

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

drops of blood on a white backgroundMs. Butler died in February of this year at the far-too-young age of 58. This was the last book she published. It's also the first book of hers that I've read.

This is one of those books that slowly reveals what's going on as the book progresses, so it's really hard to write a spoiler-free review.

It's told in first person narration by a young girl who awakens in a cave horribly wounded with no recollection of how she got there or who she is. Over the course of the first chapter she gets better (physically), and she gets better fast enough that you already are suspecting that there's something not quite human about her.

The events of the first two chapters are extremely shocking. The next few chapters reframe the shocking events to be less shocking. The shocking events are such that I expect to hear of attempts to ban this book by people who stopped reading at the shocking bits.

Ah hell, it doesn't spoil things too much to tell you that the narrator is a vampire. And that while that is shocking, it's not the most shocking thing in the first few chapters. And that Butler has tried to write a book with somewhat realistic vampires who could have inspired, but don't too closely match the common lore about vampires in our culture. Her vampires and their culture are fascinating and alluring.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book. The second half I enjoyed less, mostly because it strayed into the territory of courtroom drama which isn't my favorite. The ending made me sad, mostly because I'd grown to like these characters quite a lot and there won't be any more stories of them from Ms. Butler.

Posted by jeffy at April 29, 2006 07:39 PM
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