Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Fledgling review

Octavia Butler - Fledgling

In the last week or so I've gone through two books in my spare time. Of course by spare time I mean time I was supposed to spend asleep. Still, it was Neil Gaiman and Octavia Butler. What is sleep measured against those? Plus *sigh* I'm an addict. I literally have to make myself put books down every time I walk into a bookstore. I need to find a good used bookstore in the area, my collection has giant planet sized craters in it.

Anyway, back to the book. Octavia Butler's 'Fledgling' joins a select few books that I actually bought in hardcover and I'd say its worth it. The story is basically about a young girl, Shori, who wakes up one morning badly wounded and with no real memory of who she is or what happened to her. Over the course of the book we find out that she's actually a vampire and someone means her serious harm. By the end she gets a much better idea of who she is and manages to save herself and those she cares about from her enemies.

The real point of any Octavia Butler book, though, still remains how she handles issues like race, gender and the family structure. Shori is a product of an experiment to produce vampires capable of surviving in the sunlight for at least brief periods of time. In order to do this, vampire DNA is mixed with that of humans. Not just any humans, but black people. Shori is literally one of the first black vampires. As you can imagine, this tends to create a little bit of an issue with more conservative members of the community.

As for family structure, it continues the theme of matriarchal extended family systems that have shown up in several of her other books and short stories. She makes it a point to fully flesh out the dynamics of how such a system would be run, including possible issues with jealousy.

I should point out though, that she continues excel at writing sex scenes that genuinely creep me out. I'd explain why. Still that's just a quibble, and not even a good one, because my sense it that the sex scene in question was meant to disturb.

Its still a great book, and one I'd definitely recommend even if it means waiting for the paperback.

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