July 1, 2014

Book Review: Fledgling by Octavia Butler

FledglingFledgling by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brief synopsis with no spoilers: A non-human wakes in a cave injured and with no memory. She hunts and kills animals with her bare hands/teeth and eats them raw until she is strong enough to get to a road and meet a young man driving a car. Upon biting him she is told that she is a vampire. She sets out on quest to find out what she is, who she is, and why she is all alone. But someone is out to kill her and everyone around her.

It is hard for me to figure out how to review this so I will stick with the problems I had with the book and the things I liked about it rather than dissecting the plot in detail. While I found it very hard to put this book down, at the same time I sometimes felt filthy for having read it.

Probable spoilers!

There is something very squicky about the multiple sexual relationships this little girl vampire has with humans who do not always even know that she is not a normal little girl at first. Perhaps it is normal for vampires who are still children to have sex with humans like crazy? But for humans it is not normal to have sex with what appear to be children. Yet none of them seem worried or grossed out or anything except the very first and he just keeps calling her jail bait. At least these encounters are not described in any detail.

I also found her relationships with her "symbionts" disturbing because they had so little choice in whether or not they became permanent blood donors/sex partners. Yes, apparently they each get one chance to walk away, but this is at the point that they are already addicted to vampire venom and willing to give up everything they have ever known to get it.

I liked that Shori was intelligent and strong (oh boy is she strong!) and that she was a person of colour. Yet that last bit...somehow the way she was a product of genetic engineering and the insane racism and anger it generated rung false to me. And that is a really important part of the story. I am not saying that in real life none of this would ever happen, just that to me it wasn't convincing in the story so it's a shame it wasn't better handled. Considering that they are at the heart of the mystery regarding Shori, I would have liked to see the Silk family fleshed out a little. It seemed like there were so many families thrown at us right at the end and even the main ones were pretty vague. The ending isn't really an ending (makes sense to find out that the author died before being able to write sequels).

I liked that this book forced me out of my comfort zone, but I am not sure that I really got anything out of it beyond some uncomfortable entertainment. I think I will try to see if I can find some of Butler's other work and give it a try because everyone seems to find her earlier work to be much better.

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