Parable of the Sower
Loved it, just a beautiful book. Perfect through the first half though it tailed off in the last third or so with some strange pacing and lack of suspense. This book had everything I like in speculative fiction: hyper-realistic scenarios, heavy socio-political themes, racial and gender diversity, optimism about the human spirit and a generous sprinkling of Eastern-flavored mysticism (Ok, I’ll admit I didn’t know I liked that last one, but it really worked here).
It reminded me a lot of The Road: grisly and bleak and at times as much a horror novel as anything else, though ultimately with a more positive outlook I think. The only thing you couldn’t accuse this book of being is funny — Butler is deadly serious, and she has a serious message which again, I like. In fact I like these qualities so much in dystopian fiction that I actually wrote a novel along those lines, finished earlier this year. You can check it out for free at the link at the bottom of the page, but it’s not as good as Octavia Butler (and few are).
I can’t wait to read the next one, and I’m ashamed it has taken me so long to find out about Butler. I read Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy last year and liked it, but her bizarre exaggeration got on my nerves after awhile. They’re similar thematically, but I happen to be sincerely concerned about humanity’s trajectory and it feels like Butler shares that concern more than Atwood who, contrarily, seems to think it’s sort of absurdly hilarious. Maybe it’s just my own lack of humor, but I prefer an author who takes these things as seriously as I do.
So yes, I loved this book and from reading her bio I love Octavia Butler. She seems like she was truly humble and joyed to be able to write for a living. I have the sequel, Kindred, and Bloodchild on my short list, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up plowing through her entire bibliography in the near future. Any fans of sci-fi should read this (and my book too, and let me know what you think).