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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  16,205 ratings  ·  1,296 reviews
Parable of the Sower is the odyssey of one woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of "Paints, " people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape and murder. Whe ...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published February 1st 1995 by Turtleback Books (first published November 1st 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Regina
I am going to start this review off by asking a theoretical question. There is a huge wave coming, it will wash you and everyone you love out to see. What do you do? Do you back up away from the water? Move to higher ground? Build a boat to ride it out? Or do you turn your back on it, play on the beach and pretend that it isn’t coming? Now imagine that it isn’t a wave of water, but a wave of violence, crime and people that will be unstoppable. No wall will hold them back. You may have nowhere id ...more
Ken
Parable of the Sower isn't the easiest book to read. The prose is clear and uncomplicated, but the content can be hard to take. This is a close-to-home dystopia, one which I found hard to dismiss as improbable. And the world that it depicts is cruel and ugly. Even the well-meaning must do ugly things to survive.

This is science fiction only in the most technical sense. Sure, it's set in a hypothetical future, and the main character, Lauren, has an uncanny/(super)natural ability to feel the pain o
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 23, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
I read this book in its entirety on the bus from New York back to Baltimore. It's a strange thing reading a dystopian novel on public transportation. After every chapter I paused and looked around: at the cars traveling in both directions, obeying commonly accepted rules of the road; and at the forty five strangers sitting around me, all adopting a social contract in which we sit quietly for three hours, keep our own personal space, and leave others to their seats, their money, their food, their ...more
Ron
3.5 stars, but I expected better.

This should have been the must-read dystopia of the 90s. Perhaps it wasn't because Butler tried too hard. Or readers couldn't see past the obvious shortcomings.

Dystopias have been with us since 1948 and Brave New World, and Utopia's since Mores and even Plato's Timaeus. But Parable of the Sower may well have been this generation's dystopia. A really engaging, challenging story of believable, empathetic characters. Great social commentary.

What's wrong? One, her pr
...more
David
Sep 05, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preacher's daughters, "post-racial" Americans, hyper-empaths
Octavia Butler's vision of an American state on the brink of economic and social collapse seems all too near and plausible. Lauren Olamina, a young minister's daughter, lives in a gated community that falls prey to the violence and anarchy that's been eating away at the edges of civilization for years. It's a brutal novel, as everyone Lauren loves dies, and the deaths are often described in gruesome detail. Lauren herself suffers from a condition called hyper-empathy, which causes her to feel wh ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
For this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good writer, and I am glad I did get a chance to finally read one of her books. The narrator, the actress Lynne Thigpen, did an incredible job. Now, when I think of Lauren, I will picture her voice, feminine but strong and rich. I also liked the way she varied her voice to reflect the different characters speaking.

Lauren was a protagonist that rubbed me t
...more
Parvoneh
I just skimmed a few other Goodreads reviews of Parable of the Sower and felt confused about why difficult subject matter seems to be a weakness to many readers. If anything, I wish Octavia Butler were around so I could thank her for that. She wrote about survival, change, and power with incredible insight; she grapples with some Big Stuff but her novel, ideas, and genre also manage to be accessible. Butler's clarity is a strength and perhaps a stylistic weakness, but mostly I think there's some ...more
Stephen
4.5 stars. A brilliantly written and extremely poignant story of a young girls struggle to find her way in a dystopian future. Highly recommended!!

Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1995)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1995)
Aberjhani
Sep 06, 2007 Aberjhani rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of thought-provoking sci fi.
A TERRIFYING YET INSPIRING VISION OF DAYS TO COME

Octavia E. Butler's PARABLE OF THE SOWER is one of those rare, dangerous novels that succeeds as both fascinating fantasy and uncompromising social commentary. Within its first dozen pages, we encounter members of a typical family, armed with guns, on their way to church, a headless corpse, a naked homeless woman, a community walled in by terror, and a young woman dreaming of stars.

The dreamer is 16-year-old Lauren Oya Olamina, the would-be sower
...more
Maree
I definitely liked aspects of this book, but I'm not sure how to distinguish it all from the idea of change as religion. I probably would have liked the book even more if I'd ignored the parts about religion, but in looking at only the title it's obvious that the new religion of Earthseed is meant to be a major part of the story. I would have been fine that if instead of founding a new religious community, they established a new government with the same ideals.

We had our tough female character w
...more
Linda Robinson
Bumped into a British website that listed who the writer chose as the 5 women writers who best "write like a man." You know I had to look, grim-lipped and ready for battle. And I found Octavia E. Butler. Her character in this book, published in 1993, lives in a world so closely akin to what ours might become soon, it's uncanny. When I was an early reader, I was convinced that SF writers knew the future, that insights into what was to come were delivered directly into their writing neural synapse ...more
Tim
I saw the Book of Eli and it put me in the mood to read some end-of-the-world stories, so I got a list of the highest rated post-apocalyptic books from Goodreads and grabbed a bunch at the the library. I read a few pages of each till I came to Parable of the Sower and knew immediately I wouldn't be able to put it down.

I finished reading it that day and slept good; scary books have that effect for me. Its like, its a RELIEF to know there are lots of other pessimists out there like the author.

Lik
...more
Bettina
this is my first Octavia E. Butler book.

i kept contrasting Parable of the Sower with Cormac McCarthy's The Road and to a lesser extent with McCarthy's Blood Meridian. where McCarthy's The Road failed Butler succeeds extraordinarily--feminist perspective, social commentary that doesn't fly in your face but is also not completely opaque and mysterious. I felt that much of the social commentary (re: the process of social decay) took root in the front half of the book and then was fleshed out as the
...more
Hannah
Parable of the Sower?


More like "Parable of the RAPEYRAPERAPERAPE!" What Gospel is this again? Where exactly is the good news? "A rapist scattered rape on a rapescape, and some rapes caused unending trauma, and other rapes caused unending despair, but still other rapes created Strong Female Protagonists, and they would never let any man take Advantage of Them Again."

Mindnumbingly stupid and insulting to actual real assault victims everywhere.

I stopped reading 40 pages in.

Hooray, another "gritty
...more
Natasha Oliver
If you're fanatical about Christianity (or as my mother would say 'simply a good Christian'), then this book is not for you.

Octavia challenges the contemporary thinking of what/who God is and even goes one step further to create her own religion. One of the reviewers (luckily only 5 of the 100 reviewers didn't like this novel), called the author and this story "heresy"... which I think should warn those who would use such a term in 2008, to stay away from this award winning tale.

For those of you
...more
Julie Davis
Scott's choice for the next A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. It is my introduction to Octavia Butler. Despite the rather off-putting description that the author likes to focus on feminist and racial issues, luckily I have found none of those yet, just an interesting dystopian world as told by a young woman who has known little else.

I liked this book though I preferred the "road" sequence to the "community" sequence, which went on too long I thought. I also appreciated the "classical" style
...more
Coquille Fleur
Although I am not that into the Earhtseed religion idea of this book, it was an excellent apocalyptic tale with all the elements you'd expect from a book in this genre. While it starts out slow, the community is falling apart in a larger nation and world that has already fallen apart. This book follows an intelligent heroine from a fragile community in Southern California barely able to to survive, to the greater community of survivors hiking up the 101 in a mass of refugees. With Lauren's hyper ...more
Kasia
Mind-bending.

Yet another Octavia Butler book that did not fail at what Octavia Butler books do: draw you in, fascinate and then trap in this twisted, dark futuristic tale. The worst and best about this deal is - you don't know how to feel, what to think. At least I never do while reading Butler's creations. Always conflicted. Often freaked out. Should I cheer for the main character? Should I detest the heroine? The good intentions certainly are there, the situation complicated at least, moral a
...more
Rob
Why add a review when there is already hundreds out there and the book is nearly twenty years old and the author is dead? Well there is a time and space angle to this because this book has more of a resonance now than it had twenty years ago. We are at the beginning of the end stage of global warming. The positve feedbacks are starting up with methane being exhaled in the permafrosts of Siberia. This is the beginning of runaway climate change. It is also a time of hysterical fossil fuel producti ...more
Beth A.
Jul 09, 2009 Beth A. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beth A. by: Laura Dotson
What if Global Warming truly devastated our environment, and that destroyed the economy and made government useless, and homelessness the norm? What if water was a rare, expensive commodity? Add in a drug that makes people set fires for pleasure.

Octavia Butler creates all of this in her book Parable of the Sower.

This isn’t my usual book. I normally try to avoid the kind of violence and language that occurs within. It was –barely- within my tolerance levels but confirms that I still don’t enjoy r
...more
Sath
Parable of the Sower is the collected diaries of a young black woman called Lauren Olamina, living in california in 2025, in an almost apocalyptic time. Lauren is a hyperempath, a inherited condition that causes her to feel the pain of other people she sees. Lauren and her family live in a walled community, in fear of thieves and gangs and rapists, and 'paints', people with painted faces addicted to a drug called pyro, that makes them set fire to things for the pleasure of watching it burn. Life ...more
El
Lauren is a young woman in a gated community of LA in the year 2025. She has what is known to society as hyperempathy syndrome, the ability to experience the pain and pleasure of others to an extremely heightened and sometimes debilitating degree. She has developed a religious philosophy which she calls Earthseed that focuses heavily on Change. As the society around her collapses and those she knows and loves are lost to her, she and a few others leave the gated community in an attempt to move n ...more
Mur Lafferty
I read this book for a specific purpose for school, and I got what I needed to out of it. I was reading for the religious and dystopian aspects. I was horrified with how ... real it all seemed. No big bad nuclear war/earthquake/alien invasion caused the downfall of society, just little bits of chaos chipping away here and there. It seemed very possible.

I didn't quite buy how utterly untrusting everyone was being in the latter half of the book (no spoilers) and how people saw the creation of a gr
...more
Ian
A week ago I had never heard of this book. Today I just finished reading one of the more powerful, provocative, and poignant (forgive the unintentional alliteration) works of literature I've ever come across. Parable of the Sower is an example of everything a well thought-out and well executed dystopic work can be; it succeeds in every way other dystopic novels fail. Octavia Butler is a stunning talent.
blake
Loved it, just a beautiful book. Perfect through the first half though it tailed off in the last third or so, with some strange pacing and a lack of suspense. This book had everything I like in speculative fiction: hyper-realistic scenarios, heavy socio-political themes, racial and gender diversity, optimism about the human spirit and a generous sprinkling of Eastern-flavored mysticism (Ok, I'll admit I didn't know I liked that last one, but it really worked here).

It reminded me a lot of The Ro
...more
Teresa
Really interesting, gritty book. The last review I typed on my phone was ugly, so this will be brief. I really enjoy Butler's writing style. It is elegant and easily readable. (Aside: the book I had needed some serious copy editing, particularly with quotation marks. Hope later releases fixed that.)

The topic material was very hard throughout. Lauren's world is a harsh one that is hard to dismiss as far-fetched. Lauren is remarkable and indomitable, and I enjoyed the story enough to want to conti
...more
Janet
It's been a long time since a novel re-set some of my paradigms. This one did so gently but powerfully.

The story itself is not a gentle one. The world Lauren Olamina lives in is cruel and violent. Climate change and economic collapse have devastated much of the US, but young Lauren -- only 13 when the book starts -- is mystified that those around her are unwilling to see and accept that things are probably going to get far worse. Her practicality leads her to a new spirituality, which she calls
...more
Rowland Bismark
THE EDGE OF DESIRE

A dystopia is an unpleasant, sometimes frightening, imaginary future world. Dystopias usually take undesirable aspects of present-day society and depict a world in which those aspects have become dominant. In Parable of the Sower, Butler creates a dystopia by magnifying some disturbing social trends that occurred in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These trends included the widespread use of designer drugs (custom-made, mind-altering drugs such as Ecstasy).
...more
Patrice Hoffman
This book begins in the year 2024. The writing in this book isn't complicated or even dramatic. The protagonist Lauren Olamina is letting us read her journals. There's nothing pretty or petty in these journals. Everything is about the struggle of living in this dysotopic world where everything is wrong. Food, water, shelter, and hope are all scarce. There's always a sense of danger around every corner in this book. The only light at the end of the tunnel are the journals of this young woman who ...more
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.
More about Octavia E. Butler...

Other Books in the Series

Earthseed (2 books)
  • Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)
Kindred Fledgling Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2) Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)

Share This Book

“There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.”
38 likes
“The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one's own place,
One's own people,
One's own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise-
Into growth and new community,
Into vast, ongoing
Change.”
15 likes
More quotes…