Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Octavia Butler's last novel, Fledgling, was decidedly unimpressive. Years ago, I read The Parable of the Sower and its sequel, and while I didn't exactly like them- something about her writing style makes me uncomfortable, which I suspect is intentional on her part, though I can't pinpoint how she does it- they had really interesting themes which made them more than worthwhile. Fledgling provides the same discomfort (both stylistically and thematically) but without the difficult social revelations to justify it.

It's a vampire story, with a creative take on modern-day vampires and vampire mythology. The first chapter is phenomenal- describing an amnesiac's confused return to the world, and leaving us guessing as to just what kind of creature she is- but after that, things go downhill. The rest of her re-adjustment to life is not believable, and the amnesia itself is a fairly implausible device. Certain details seem designed to push readers' boundaries, but do so either without real purpose (such as the fact that the main character is a sexually active 53-year-old, but in the body of a 10-year-old girl) or ineffectively (like the decidedly nontraditional vampire household compositions, but non-monogamy just isn't all that shocking to me).

I felt like the other Butler books I read had messages they were attempting to impart, and did so effectively (and even though I somewhat disagreed with the conclusions, Sower in particular was certainly thought-provoking). Fledgling seemed to be laying the morals on thick, but in the end I never figured out what it was trying to say.

1 comment:

shannon said...

I read "Wild Seed" years ago. I didn't like it enough to run out and get others by Butler. That said, I just read the synopsis of Wild Seed on wikipedia, and I don't remember anything about it at all.

Don't bother reading "Slant" (Greg Bear), which somehow I got confused with "Wild Seed". Maybe I read them around the same time.