Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
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Dawn (Xenogenesis #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  6,493 ratings  ·  568 reviews
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.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Warner Books (first published 1987)
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Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jun 05, 2014 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of sci-fi and aliens
As one of the earliest African-American female science fiction writers, Octavia Butler is a must for anyone who reads sci-fi. Fourteen of her works were nominated for the Locus Award during her career, including each book in the Xenogenesis series, but she only had one win, the novelette “Bloodchild.” Dawn is the first book in the Xenogenesis series, published in 1987, and is a science fiction classic. It achieves what the best in science fiction has to offer: by looking at humanity’s interactio...more
Christina White
I have such conflicted feelings about this book. I found it both brilliant and disturbing in equal measure. The beginning introduces the reader to a strange and terrifying situation that sucks you in right away. The horror at some revelations is delivered so realistically that I found myself clenching my teeth and trying to hide in the pillows I was reading on. I was very impressed. The more I read on though, the more unsettling things became. Near the last quarter of the book Octavia crossed a...more
Michael
I loved the almost elegant and unrelenting unfolding of a most unusual alien apocalypse. The Oankali are the saviors of humankind after a nuclear war, preserving a population of survivors in a form of suspension while working to facilitate recovery of planetary ecology. But at what a cost. Their agenda is to merge genetically with humans to make a new species.

That plot overview is certainly a spoiler, but that is what is rendered for a draw on the book’s cover. It’s really okay because we are w...more
Apatt
I have been squirreling away Octavia Butler books. I consider myself an avid fan of her works yet I have only read two of her novels so far (Wild Seed and Kindred), and the last one was sometime last year. My rationale is that there are only a finite number of Butler books available to read as the lady is no longer with us. If I binge on them now there will not be any more new Butler books to read and I will only have rereads to look forward to. As I love both Wild Seed and Kindred very much her...more
Pants
I was afraid to start the Xenogenesis trilogy because I knew there’d be issues with consent. Some reviewers described it as graphic, horrific, disturbing—and they were right on all accounts, but Dawn wasn’t as graphic as I’d initially feared. That’s not to say it was an easy book to read. The Oankali violate personal boundaries, both physical and mental, and genuinely believe their actions service humanity. The Oankali strip Lilith of her right to her mind, her body, and a life of her choosing....more
Gary
Okay. So how do I describe this really weird sci-fi book that masquerades as horror. Not hunt you down alone on a ship Alien horror, more like subtly psychologically really disturbing (to me anyway) sci-fi.
The basic situation is a girl, Lilith, (for mythology fans, please note the symbolism) is the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust and is left with the responsibilities of awakening the other humans from a deep sleep, telling them they are on an alien ship, leading them to earth, and, of cours...more
Honeycarmel
I like the way this book is starting..... OK , so I'm finished now. I really, really loved this book. It was like the Matrix without a constant war and all that fighting. I saw someone else's review about the book cover. Interestingly, I read the book with the big red letters and the two white women on the cover. I did not know that the main character was black. I assumed she was the white lady on the cover. So, a quarter the way through the book I realize that she is black. Also, realize that a...more
Rob
Executive Summary: A well written and very different story that just made me uncomfortable the whole time. It wasn't exactly my type of book, but it may be yours.

Full Review
These sorts of reviews are the hardest to write. For books I love, the reviews usually come pretty easily. For books I don't, I try to express why I didn't like the book without ranting about it and then move on and don't worry too much about the quality of the review.

This book falls somewhere in between. It really made me f...more
Penny
Fascinating from so many points of view! Beautifully written and deeply insightful. I can't think of any other book I've read that tells a similar story and I found this a very unique tale which was brilliantly told.

This was my first Octavia E. Butler and it more than lived up to all the wonderful things I'd heard about her work. The insights into human nature are too plentiful to list, made without seeming to try. The aliens are striking and just so alien. One of the best examples of the insig...more
terpkristin
I confess, when the Sword & Laser online book club put up a poll to read a book by Octavia E. Butler, I was nervous. While Butler's works have a good reputation, I've found that many sci fi books that are hyped really don't work for me. In the poll, I voted to read Fledgling, which came in dead last. The winner of the poll was Dawn, which I guess worked out well because I'd bought it sometime before 2014 and therefore it was in my queue to pick from this year.

To my surprise, I was immediate...more
Kurt
At the time of the writing of Xenogenesis, leading up to their publication in 1987, the Cold War was in full swing and nobody, certainly not the CIA, had any inkling that Ronald Reagan’s aggressive foreign policy toward the U.S.S.R. was helping that nation to spend itself out of existence*. This is mostly relevant because in the 1980s, with thousands of nuclear ICBM’s between them pointed at one another, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. genuinely created the context for a nuclear war – now, in 2012,...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. First installment of the "Xenogenesis" series. Excellent premise dealing with the survivors of a nuclear holocaust being "rescued" by alien "gene-traders" known as the Oankali. The description of the aliens and their ship is superb and the story is well-writen.

Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
jo
i'm going to review this classic without reading anyone else's review (i'll read them later), because the experience of reading it was so powerful for me, i want to try to convey it here intact. this is my fourth octavia butler, after Parable of the Sower, Fledgling and Wild Seed. butler is pretty consistent in her themes, but not until this time was i able to see precisely what she's doing.

this "precisely" indicates the level of power this book had for me, not the truth of what octavia butler...more
Jennifer Petro
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Punk
SF. Almost three hundred years after the population of Earth has been decimated by nuclear war, Lilith Iyapo wakes up on a space ship among aliens. She learns that her rescuers/captors want to return humans to Earth, but there's a price. The Oankali survive by merging their genetic material with other species, and the humans they return to Earth won't be human for long.

Boy, is this book crawling with consent issues. Aliens: Not all that interested in your personal boundaries! One of them repeate...more
Zulfiya
This first novel in the trilogy explores the human xenophobia and our unwillingness and rigidness to evolve, move on, and embrace inevitable changes. The novel itself is a metaphor and a bleak description of the humanity after the nuclear war. There are numerous references and allusions to the speculative nuclear conflict between the USA and the former USSR, and it is not accidental because the book was written during the final detrimental moments of the Cold War, when the antagonistic feelings...more
Brad Foley
I've only happened upon Butler recently, and I don't know how I missed her for so long. Dawn is an excellent introduction to her writing (and the best single book in the trilogy). Like much of my favourite science fiction, it begins with a puzzle, and I was as confused as the main character, Lilith, through much of the first half of the book. The story, when it begins to unfold, is compelling and well crafted. Butler's writing is wonderful, and the world of Dawn is fantastic, but believable with...more
Hnubtshiab
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marisa
Wow. A real thinking book.

This is the 2nd Octavia Butler book I have read. The first was Parable of the Sower, and I definitely see some recurring themes between the two. Human brutality, the concept of sharing feelings, loss of power over oneself, drastic changes to society.

I am very much impressed by Butler, she shows a definite realism and pessimism towards "human nature" in her works. It sounds bad, but I tend to agree with her.

In both Parable of the Sower and Dawn, the protagonist finds...more
Jason
I thoroughly enjoyed this first of the three books in this series. This is the first Octavia Butler novel that I have read, even though I have always wanted to. I thought that this was a deep, dark, and somber look at a post world warIII earth that has had it's survivors rescued by an alien race. Xenophobia does not even begin to describe the tensions in this novel between the humans and the aliens. The protagonist Lilith is a great character, she is strong, sensitive, smart, and most importantl...more
Mimi
Jun 24, 2014 Mimi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's looking for a different perspective on the alien abduction trope
Recommended to Mimi by: Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
This is gonna take some or a lot of time to work through. Might not review until I finish the trilogy.
Jeremy
This is the first book I've read by Butler and I had mixed feelings about it. The plot was interesting and the ideas behind it were pretty intriguing, but the book just seemed to lose me after about a hundred pages of the same old things happening over and over. It seemed to me that Lillith would have her own thoughts about how terrible the genetic engineering that was happening to her was, but then she would turn around and reason herself into almost accepting it.[return][return]The book just f...more
Michael
No Spoilers in This Review

This is a haunting and anxiety-provoking speculative fiction novel that covers a lot of psychological and ethical issues in sometimes unflinching detail. It is one of my favorite types of novels - the "what the hell is going on?" type - but that fact makes it very difficult to review without spoilers. Ultimately, I decided to avoid spoilers for those (very few?) of you left who know nothing about this book, because the discovery is half the experience.

In the first pages...more
Marvin
Octavio Butler was an unique voice in science fiction. I have only read Wild Seed and a few short stories before, but Dawn, the first of the Xenogenesis series, is in keeping with her recurring themes. Lilith finds herself revived after a 250 years sleep on a alien spaceship. She discovers that she and other humans are the last survivors of a devastating war that ended life on Earth. They will be trained and returned to a rejuvenated Earth by the aliens. However, there is always a catch. The dis...more
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
I was awake until about four this morning listening to this book. I had to learn the fate of Lilith and the other humans. And...that is exactly what anyone who reads this book will learn. The fate of humans.
Lilith awakens after many years to learn that she is captive/guest on an alien ship orbiting earth. We, humankind, had gone to war and essentially killed off ourselves and destroyed our Earth making it uninhabitable. The Oankali, an alien race, has come to our rescue, so to speak. They have...more
Juanita
This was my introduction to Octavia - a BRILLIANT book. There was absolutely NO downside to it. Dawn was suspensful and vivid. It questioned morals and the reasons people behave the way that they do. It was even sensual and provocative. She has the gift of the written description. She never uses words that perplex - words that you need to look up in order to "see" the surroundings or the characters. For example: In the book "Helix" by J. L. Bryan, the author - in an attempt to explain a scene of...more
KMO
This was my introduction to Octavia Butler, and I think it's a great place to start on her fiction. All of the archetypal Butler elements are here: humans as a brutal and flawed species made into something better by entering into a symbiotic relationship with a non-human intelligence, brutality, people making do in the remnants of a civilization that self-destructed, strong female protagonist, but it's all "lite" compared to some of her other series. The brutality is nothing like that of the ext...more
Res
Jul 11, 2011 Res rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sff
The one where Lilith Iyapo falls asleep during what looks like a world-destroying war and wakes up facing a particularly challenging first-contact situation.

I read and loved these books when I was in high school. Returning to them, I still find much to love, but the gender politics that I (and apparently Octavia Butler) took for granted back then are just jaw-dropping.

I mean, OK, there's a certain amount of violation included in the premise. The Oankali are offering humans a choice: die out or...more
Maggie K
What a neat book!
Butler takes an imaginative premise (aliens have 'rescued' humans in order to 'cross-breed) and writes a pretty straight forward story with it.

While appearing fairly simple, the ideas within strike deep chords....the good samaritan with an agenda, the logic of 'I'm doing this for your own good', and what is considered treasonous on a species level...all tied up in an easy to read package!
Casey
Dawn is an emotionally intense book, but no less than what I would expect from Octavia Butler.

Lilith is awoken upon an alien spaceship and told she has been asleep for years. The book begins upon her third awakening, with the previous two she assumes were the subject of some sort of psychological testing. The aliens, called Oankali, are kind to her, but their physical appearance is so repulsive she can barely look at them.

The Oankali tell her they are traders. They have saved the human race fro...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...
Kindred Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1) Fledgling Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2) Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)

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