Monday, April 5, 2010

Review: Fledgling

Octavia Butler is an amazing author. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with reading any of her books. I could almost just leave it at that - no review, just demand that you go read Fledgling. Instead, I will try to articulate what I thought was so interesting about this book.

First, there's the writing. The prose was spare, I thought, but incredibly compelling. There was something so irresistible, to me, about how simple yet descriptive the writing was.

The second interesting thing about this book was the story. I thought there would be more of an action arc but overall it wasn't very action driven. Instead, the story was engaging, moving forward interspersed with bursts of action. In fact, Fledgling was a real page-turner. I really wanted to know what was going to happen next.

The third interesting thing about this book is the ideas. There are some very uncomfortable moments in Fledgling - a grown man has sex with someone who looks like a child, people are kept as possessions, even if they are there voluntarily, and, as in all of Butler's books that I have read, race is never a comfortable issue. But there is so much to think about it in here and no easy answers. It makes for a just fascinating read.

I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't given a plot summary. As so often happens, I found the description on the back of the book to be misleading. But I rather liked not really knowing what would happen, so I don't really care to correct it and lay it out for you here. In short, though, Fledgling is about a 10-year-old black girl who is actually a 50-plus year old vampire.

It does feel a little like there should be a sequel to this book - like Fledgling set up the world and the next book would expand on it. Sadly, Ms. Butler passed away after its publication, so this is all we have of the world of Fledgling. But its a really interesting book and one that I would recommend to anyone who likes their SF/Fantasy a little smarter.

Buy Fledgling on Amazon.


  1. I have this for a May readalong at the Not the TV Book Group. Very much looking forward to it and to some proper scary vampires (bring them back I say).

  2. I totally agree with your saying that the book is not action-driven. When I read it, I thought I became engaged because of its unusual contemplation of "vampireness." Ms. Butler has put wonderful musings of the humanity aspects of the life of Ina. They're more like upgraded human beings, upgraded because they can live longer and thus can spend more time observing the life or history of "normal" human being. They're also upgraded in the sense that they don't busy themselves with trivial things in life such as racism. However, it is also unique how some families of Ina became effected by human's obsession with the superiority of one race over another. Thanks for the post.


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