Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)" by Octavia E. Butler

This is the first book I read in 2015, both because of #VintageSciFi (which entails reading a science fiction that is older than you during January) and because I've never read a book by Octavia Butler, and that was one of my goals for 2015.

My first impression of this book was that it would make a fairly simple read. I liked that it was easy to dive into: you only have a few characters to start with, and only one of those is human and therefore the one you're 'rooting for'. Lilith was a bit difficult to get to know, but I think it had something to do with the setting. You don't learn much about Lilith's former life other than her family, and because she is on board an alien vessel, she's more than a little withdrawn. As the book progresses, more of her personality emerges, but she also has some changes to her personality.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Lilith lyapo awoke from a centuries-long sleep to find herself aboard the vast spaceship of the Oankali. Creatures covered in writhing tentacles, the Oankali had saved every surviving human from a dying, ruined Earth. They healed the planet, cured cancer, increased strength, and were now ready to help Lilith lead her people back to Earth--but for a price.'

Although Dawn is science fiction, it's clearly more about civilization as we know it. Themes like what it means to be human, basic human rights, and fighting for control over your own destiny surface throughout. In a way, the author's prose reminds me of Margaret Atwood's- sparse and simple, but it can cut into you in an instant.

The aliens of this book, the Oankali, have chosen Lilith to be a metaphorical 'mother' for a new era of humanity. She is to guide and teach other humans how to survive on what's left of Earth. The only problem? The Oankali have plans that Lilith vehemently disagrees with. She has little choice in this book, but what she does choose makes me alternate between cringing and cheering. Lilith is a pretty complicated heroine.

A favorite snippet:

She did not own herself any longer. Even her flesh could be cut and stitched without her consent or knowledge.

           ~Dawn by Octavia E. Butler, page 6 Kindle edition

Dawn is unabashedly the first book in a series. You aren't left with a cliffhanger, but if I didn't have the next books in the series, I'd be fuming now. Nonetheless, what I read intrigued me greatly and I'll be continuing to follow the series, perhaps even within the next few weeks. If you have all the books in this series and enjoy science fiction with a slice of new world order-ish themes, Dawn may be the book for you.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great, vintage sci-fi series starter!

Content: Ages 18+ for sexual misconduct, violence, and derogatory words.

Page Count: 248 pages

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