Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) by Octavia E. Butler

The previous series I read by Octavia E. Butler was basically about aliens coming to colonize earth. This book is different- instead, the humans of Earth are sometimes born with extraordinary abilities, making some of them live almost immortal lives. Anyanwu, the heroine of this book, is one of those extraordinarily gifted humans. But instead of setting it in modern times, this is set in the late 1600s and continuing from there, making it an alternate take on history.

What I love about Miss Butler's books is she always makes it easy to read, but at the same time deal with difficult concepts. I likely could've read this book in a day, but in the same note, I'm still thinking about and processing what happened in the book over a week later. I read a lot of fluffy books that I can read once, but despite their fluffiness, I likely wouldn't revisit because they don't have more to offer me. If I reread this book today, I would likely keep finding new concepts and ideas that I'd missed because it's so easy to snarf down in a few sittings. Her books are somehow simple and complicated in the same breath.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex or design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny (from Africa to the New World) unimaginable to mortals.'

Anyanwu has a lot in common with Lilith, a heroine of the Xenogenesis series, but I like Anyanwu more due to her strength of character, and the strength of her ability. Lilith had little to no control over her situation, while Anyanwu has plenty of abilities to hold her own with. Anyanwu also generally seemed to have more emotion than Lilith ever did- it's hard to relate to a character who has little to no emotion. Anyanwu has some serious culture shock to deal with when she comes to the "New World", while Doro seems to seamlessly adjust to any culture. Doro, meanwhile, remains the enigma in this book. There are chapters from his perspective, but I just can't find suitable motives to his actions in this book, as of yet. Perhaps when I continue with this series, his motivations will be more transparent.

The difficult part of this book is it deals with selective breeding- of human beings. Normally I'd consider that a spoiler, but you get the gist that that is where the book will go just from the first few chapters. I think the author chose to make this an alternate history to make it more believable that any of the characters would go along with it- setting it during the time where slavery was considered "normal" also draws parallels from that aspect.

Wild Seed is not quite what I expected, but at the same time, an excellent alternate history novel. It's not a challenge to read, but don't expect to have it leave your thoughts once you've finished it. If you don't mind some serious gray area content in your science fiction, Wild Seed may be a good choice for your next read.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an alternate history I won't soon forget.

Content: Ages 18+ for violence, rape, and various other gray areas of morality.

Page Count: 320 pages


  1. I haven't read anything by Butler, although I have a couple of her books on my TBR shelf. This isn't one I am familiar with, but it does sound good. I like books that go into that grey area. They often give me good food for thought. Thank you for your great review!

    1. I haven't seen this one in the blogosphere as much, but I actually liked it better than the first book of the Xenogenesis series (which I read in January). I think pretty much any of Butler's works would be well worth the read- she has so many ideas to share. I'm glad you liked my review. :)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle


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