Fledgling – Octavia E. Butler

Well apart from the tears that were shed in the fact that this book was the last title for the Not The TV Book Group I was really looking forward to reading what promised to be a very different vampire kind of book. Not that I have anything against vampire as I have ended up being addicted to the Twilight Saga , well what I have read so far anyway. So would this be the pigeon hole busting vampire book that I was promised?

I have to say Octavia E. Butler’s final book ‘Fledgling’ is quite unlike any vampire book that I have read before in lots of ways. For one the vampire in question, Shori, is a 53 year old vampire with amnesia under the cunning guise of a ten year old black girl. When we meet her she is a mystery to herself just as much as she is to the reader lost in the woods with no memories at all just heightened senses. In many ways Butler played a clever card as the reader makes the journey alongside Shori into finding just what she is and how she came to be. We soon discover that the remains of a village burnt down is not far from where Shori has been cocooned a village Shori is fairly sure she might have lived. She needs answers, and so do we, and so goes searching.

Now this is where it all started to get unsettling for me because in finding civilisation she meets Wright a hairy hulk of a twenty three year old and not too long after this they start having sex after she bites him (something she soon learns is addictive, necessary and highly pleasurable for both parties). I hit a certain ‘ewww’ situation here because this seemed to be rather paedophilic, ok so Shori is technically 53 but she looks ten. This made me put the book down for quite some time before soldiering on.

Eventually Shori finds some ‘others like her’ who we come to learn are in Ina ‘an ancient species of near mortals’ this is when the book starts to feel more like a sci-fi book than vampire tale, though the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive of course. It’s also when guns appear in the book and we go off into some action sequences, before (and I don’t want to give too much away) the book takes an almost courtroom drama twist though not your average ones being vampires and all. Into the mix of all these goings on Butler also somehow deals with race, polygamy, sexuality and our pasts it’s an interesting mix though for me it didn’t quite work. I couldn’t connect with Shori and despite the master and slave bond she creates with her human symbiants she never creates an emotional one and so therefore neither did I. I did read on, I was just never quite hooked or convinced though sadly. 5/10

I have since heard this was apparently a book that Butler wrote as a lark (heavens knows what a seriously dark book by Butler would be like, I don’t think I will be finding out to be honest) and so maybe this was meant to be a slightly throw away novel? I don’t think I helped myself with this book in some ways though because I looked at all the amazing reviews on a certain site which I think made me build up the book before I had started it. It probably also doesn’t help I am reading another book that twists the vampire tale on its head (and is bloody brilliant – do you see what I did there) which is of course the epic ‘The Passage’ by Justin Cronin. Hmmm a puzzling one. Have you read any Butler; if so was this the wrong book to start with? Should I have avoided those pesky reviews too?

14 Comments

Filed under Not The TV Book Group, Octavia E. Butler, Review

14 responses to “Fledgling – Octavia E. Butler

  1. Hmm… interesting. This sounds like a rather odd book and I’m not sure I’ll be looking to get it any time soon!

  2. Darla LaRoche

    If you are tired of vampires, how about werewolves. I think you’d like The Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar. Also, my favorite vampire book is Sunshine by Robin McKinley. If you look up the titles, I think you’d be intrigued by the blurbs. Can’t wait for Martin Millar’s follow up due out in Aug.

    • I am not exactly tired of vampires, I think this just wasnt the book I wanted it to be and expected it to be. Plus reading The Passage (people must be so bored of those two words on here) made it pale into comparison sadly!

      I dont know what my thoughts on werewolves are actually!!??

  3. This was the wrong one to start with. Oh, my, it was really the wrong one to start with.

    Her best, by far, is Kindred. Kindred is head and sholders her best work. It’s a wonderful, entertaining read, something of a thrill ride and it deals with race and slavery head on. Ms. Butler was not afraid to go after touchy issues.

    The Parable of the Sower, while not as good as Kindred, also would have been a better place to start.

    The NTTVBG started in the wrong place, and I fear you all may never try another book by Butler. But, someday, maybe years from now when you’ve forgotten Fledling, you’ll come across a copy of Kindred and give it a go.

    It’s wonderful.

    • Well it was for the NTTVBG and in fairness we had no idea how any of our choices would pan out to be honest from the off so its not the group or choosers fault.

      And in double fairness I would never have read Butler without it full stop. I don’t think I will rush to again but I do believe in second chances for any author so maybe one day, who knows.

    • i just wanted to second the nomination for Kindred. it really is a lovely book that i would consider one of the best books on slavery that i have ever read.

  4. I was going to say the exact same thing — KINDRED is where it’s at. It examines our current relationship to slavery’s history as well as the complexities of slavery at the time — no easy answers. I admire Butler to no end and highly recommend Kindred.

  5. So far I have only read Wild Seed but I loved it. I have Lilith’s Brood, which is a trilogy in one? – can’t wait to get started on that one. I think Butler is an author I’d like to read everything of, but I’m in no rush. I want to read this one too! I’ve never heard of it before.

    • After this one I definitley couldnt take on a trilogu but I know there is a lot of love for Butler out there and there must be a good reason this book just didnt sell her to me.

  6. Just popping in to say “Tag!” – on this post; http://stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.com/2010/05/tea-and.html
    Have a go if you’d like!

  7. I just finished reading Kindred this past weekend and thought it was brilliant. I haven’t written a review of it yet but sometime today or tomorrow I think. Anyway, like you, Fledgling was my first book by Octavia Butler. I thought it was interesting, but a bit off-putting and then anti-climactic at the end. Kindred is a completely different beast, at least in my mind.

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