**spoiler alert** Are we inherently violent? What is the relationship between the Other and the Self, particularly when the Other is radically other?**spoiler alert** Are we inherently violent? What is the relationship between the Other and the Self, particularly when the Other is radically other? In what ways are men different from women or, put another way, are masculine cultures different from feminine cultures? What meanings do children have for individuals and communities? In Lilith's Brood, Butler tells us stories that force us to reflect deeply on all of these questions. The best kind of speculative fiction, in my opinion, is the kind that forces us to think. Lilith's Brood definitely does that.
Lilith is my favorite part of Dawn. She is logical, stubborn, and strong. Her life is depressing and not rewarding. I find myself continually hoping that history will be kind to Lilith and recognize her as the salvation of humanity that she was. At least she gets good mind sex. The other characters, particularly in Dawn, are well developed and intriguing. I didn't like who I was intended to not like and I cozied up to characters such as Joseph and Tate and young Nikanj.
The story in Dawn continually kept my attention, the environments were dynamic, and each section had a nice hanging conclusion. The opening was one of the most intense I have read. I actually cracked open the book in bed, but I forced myself to put it down because I knew it was the kind of book that would get me super excited rather than sleepy. Anything but sleepy did it make me. And it wasn't just the action. So many of her descriptions were tantalizingly accurate that I couldn't help but reread and imagine. For example, "That sounded like a horrible existence--not to be able to close one's eyes, sink into the private darkness behind one's own eyelids." Throughout the story, I found the characters dynamic, the environment surprising, and the plot enticing. I absolutely loved that it wasn't until the end of Dawn, the very last sentence even, that we were certain it actually was a training facility and not Earth.
Adulthood Rites was super intense, but I found it had pacing problems the first book didn't have. I still thoroughly enjoyed the plot however. Seeing the Resister villages from the inside was enlightening and sad. Very sad. I wouldn't go so far as to call Butler misanthropic, but her picture of the potential of humanity is quite dull. But negative doesn't equal bad. Her stories seem so internally logical; I hate that I cannot argue with her. When the Resisters fashioned guns, I wanted to believe it wasn't inevitable. When Akin was cruelly kidnapped or when women were seen as good only for rape, I wanted to think we had inevitably progressed beyond such barbarity. Have we? Are the stories of Adulthood Rites a picture of what we are, of what we would become under such circumstances?
These questions are why I so urgently wanted to follow the Mars colony in the third book. Desperately, I needed to know if there was hope for a different story for humanity. Butler, nevertheless, kept us on Earth and told us a story we didn't so urgently desire and which didn't solve any questions we had before beginning Imago. Sure, Imago ends up being a tale of humans and in a way completing the story by showing the last or strongest bastion of humans giving in to the Oankali. But that's what I feel it was--giving in and not accomplishing or fighting or doing anything that required much agency. The humans, particularly the men, finally gave in to the Oankali because of their need for them, because they realized they weren't really all that bad and why not go with them. Humanity finally came to peace with the Other. Yet because it was a peace not freely chosen, it is ultimately unsatisfying and disappointing.
The other, not nearly as important, contention I have with the final book is that Jodahs is too similar, in my opinion, to Akin. They both were great new threats to Lo, they both constantly desired to heal and to fuck, they both were children of Lilith and, other than Jodahs' bland relationship with Nikanj, they didn't really have any interesting tensions within the Lo community. Further, I assumed that we would get an update, any little tidbit of info, regarding Akin, yet we did not.
The series was amazing. I wish the final book was different than I had hoped, but it was still enjoyable. I would recommend this series to anyone with an interest in thinking critically about the state and potential of humanity. 4 out of 5 stars from me....more