Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fledgling, by Octavia E. Butler

Rating: 3/5
Publisher:BBC Audiobooks America
10 discs
Narrated by
Source: Library book

Description: Fledgling, the late Octavia E. Butler's final novel, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly un-human needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: she is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted--and still wants--to destroy her and those she cares for, and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human. (from the back cover)

Review: This a thought provoking book, presenting issues of human vs non-human, race, vengeance, family, and many others. I just didn't find it a particularly compelling story.

The background details of the main character's "vampire" race are well thought out, but they're presented in a series of info dumps. These are useful for Shori, the main character, since she remembers nothing, but a bit tedious for the reader. They are spread out across the book, with her, and us, still learning details near the end, but it doesn't help much since there's a lot of information for the author to convey.

The main plot of the story involves Shori and her growing family of symbionts, humans she forms a connection with and feeds on regularly, trying to figure out who slaughtered her family and trying to protect themselves from also being killed. This was interesting and the revealed motives behind the attacks is presented in a way that makes sense to the reader, without the reader needing to share their prejudices. 

I'm still puzzled as to why one character chooses to react the way they do, when sentenced for their role in the books events. I suspect it was suppose to be due to pride, but I didn't feel we got to know enough about the character for this to be entirely convincing.

There's also something of a squick factor with Shori's relationship with her symbionts. The relationship is partly sexual in nature, and while Shori is actually 53 years old and not human, she has the appearance of a 10 year old and doesn't remember the first 53 years of her life. That combination made me feel distinctly uncomfortable while reading parts of this book. And since I was reading the audio version, I couldn't just skim ahead easily.

The narrator was good, and did a reasonable job of giving characters a distinct sound, but I did lose track of who was speaking at times.

This book hasn't completely turned me off the author's work, but I'll be picking the next one a little more carefully.

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