Nikki 's Reviews > Wild Seed

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler
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Dec 25, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: speculative-fiction
Read from July 04 to 05, 2010

This book wasn't as good a match for my mood as N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but it didn't suffer for being read immediately after it. It's an interesting concept: a being that might as well be a god, moving from body to body, amoral and utterly self-serving, trying to breed others like him so he won't be alone, and a being who is also immortal, or close to it, nurturing families so she won't be alone. The two of them are entirely different: Anwanyu loves the people she finds and treats them well, no matter what, and she has children and cares for them not as means to an end, but as ends in themselves. Doro is merciless, regarding people only as long as they serve his purpose. We're clearly meant to sympathise with Anwanyu, as she's the closest to what we can understand, but Doro has his moments too, at least for me. His loneliness is something I can understand.

The different abilities, and the difficulty in producing them, in people surviving them, and how many ways they can go wrong, rings true to me. It's discomforting to read about people being bred like cattle, without real dignity, but sometimes you kind of share in Doro's frustration that it isn't turning out the way it should.

Because of the immortal nature of the two characters, they're the only ones that exist throughout the novel, but there are one or two others worth sympathising with, mostly (for me) Isaac and Thomas, despite how short-lived Thomas is.

The style of the writing is deceptively simple, but there's a lot to think about. It isn't mindless brain candy, despite being easy to read.

The most unsatisfying thing about it is the ending. I'm aware this is the first book in its timeline, not the only book, but the end is an uncomfortable compromise that leaves Anwanyu still not quite doing what she feels is right, which is a disappointment.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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rivka If you didn't like the ending, read Mind of My Mind next. Anyanwu is barely in it, but it's a resolution nonetheless.

Nikki I'm not sure whether I liked the ending or not, but I found it... difficult. Still thinking about it, I suppose! Thank you for the recommendation, though -- some resolution would be good.

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