Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)” as Want to Read:
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Parable of the Sower

(Earthseed #1)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  65,310 ratings  ·  6,430 reviews
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future.

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a cu
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 1993)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Parable of the Sower, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jennifer I think the misspellings are the character's, since it's a recount of her journal. It bothered me at first until I thought about it. (What you're desc…moreI think the misspellings are the character's, since it's a recount of her journal. It bothered me at first until I thought about it. (What you're describing seems like a formatting/conversion error, though.) (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  65,310 ratings  ·  6,430 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
Rick Riordan
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
YA dystopian fiction (but written decades before that term was coined.) I am embarrassed to say I had never read Octavia Butler before. I’m happy I finally corrected this glaring oversight. This novel set in the near future is so frighteningly prescient it is difficult to read. The year is 2026. American society is rapidly breaking down thanks to global warning, economic stagnation and wealth disparity. 18-year-old Lauren Olamina lives with her family in a walled-off middle class neighborhood ou ...more
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
For a long time I had naively held on to the notion that Octavia E. Butler is the African American counterpart to Ursula K. Le Guin - an assumption begotten out of the commonality that both their creations despite being shoehorned into the genre of science/speculative fiction epitomize realities of institutionalized sociopolitical inequities. Not only has my first foray into Butler's literary landscapes altered that idea greatly but compounded my respect for Le Guin's masterful way of letting th ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
The world is full of painful stories.

When the world falls apart and people are beset by intense suffering and sadness, many turn to religion for the assuring promise of a better place beyond death. In Parable of the Sower, an intensely riveting and disquieting vision of America’s collapse by Octavia Butler, teenage Lauren Olamina instead asks why should we resign ourselves to hope in paradise after death when we could rise up with the power to fight the suffering we face while alive to embrace
J.L.   Sutton
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
"A lot of things changed for the survivors...It took a plague to make some of the people realize that things could change."

ArtsEmerson: Octavia E. Butler

2024 is bleak, very bleak! The following years are even darker. The United States looks like it is in its death throes. In Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler presents a society broken into enclaves, all fighting for their survival. But outside their walls, it's worse. Unfortunately, that's where our hyper-empathy syndrome heroine, Lauren Olamina, is headed. There's a lot t
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-reviews
I often wonder about religion. Its roots, its power, its consequences. When looking at the religion that had the biggest influence on my life, I sometimes wonder if that belief system isn't just a biography that got out of hand. We've got the life of Jesus described to us, the good deeds he did and the things he had to say, and people picked it up, learnt it, liked it, loved it, embraced it, fought for it, killed for it, died for it. Whoa, that escalated quickly. Such a tiny harmless thing as a ...more
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sci-fi
When I started reading this book I immediately felt inclined to rate it five stars even before finishing the first sentence. Hardly fair or reasonable I know, but that's love. I have loved Octavia Butler since reading Wild Seeds a couple of years ago, I went on to read Kindred and the Lilith's Brood trilogy which only solidified my love for this dear departed lady and all she stood for.

Having said that, I initially felt a little disappointed with the first chapter of Parable of the Sower beca
Unsettling and powerful, like The Road with a Black female protagonist and more BIPOC characters overall. In some ways I dislike using The Road as a comparison given that white people’s art is not the standard, and Octavia Butler creates a whole world of her own in Parable of the Sower. First published in 1993, this dystopian novel flashes forward to 2025, when the United States has descended into chaos and what remains includes a country pervaded by disease, war, and chronic water shortages. La ...more
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

I read PARABLE OF THE SOWER for the first time as a teenager and I'm kind of surprised at how much I've forgotten/how much went over my head. It's a typical post-apocalyptic book in some ways, but revolutionary in others. First, it's peopled with a very diverse cast, with black, Asian, and Latino characters, to the point that they overshadow any Caucasian characters. California is one of the most ethnically diverse states in the U.S., so
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On second reading, I think Butler's riff on post-apocalyptic travails hit me harder than the first time. After seeing the devastation in New Orleans on television and talking to friends and others whose relatives made it out of the city, the concepts of civilisation falling apart and humanity's worst nature coming to the forefront seem a lot closer and more likely... events in general since I first read the book have certainly not reached anywhere close to what Butler predicts in this novel - (w ...more
Feb 29, 2016 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
Abandoning this book at about 30%. I just can't finish it. Feels too much like a young adult novel, which isn't necessarily a problem in and of itself - but dialogue is boring me. I am not a huge sci-fi/dystopia fan, so it really needs to grab me if I am going to read it. This one just isn't working for me personally. Not going to rate this one as a result. Too many other books waiting to be read!
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"I stared down the hill from our camp where just a glint of water was visible in the distance through the trees and bushes. The world is full of painful stories. Sometimes it seems as though there aren’t any other kind and yet I found myself thinking how beautiful that glint of water was through the trees."

There is only one word to describe the world that Butler built in Parable of the Sower and that word is


I recently read a review of one of her other books, Kindred, in which the reviewe
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The best & worst thing about this book is just how realistic it is.

In the world we live in now, with such instant access to crises all over the world as they unfold, it makes sense that some of us are more than a little uneasy over the idea of the future.

I want to say things can only get better, but that’s exactly the type of narrow outlook that leads us right back into repeating the worst mistakes our history has to offer.

This book follows a young girl & her perseverance through a world ravaged
“When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe.”

I fell in love very hard with Octavia Butler’s work when I read “Kindred” (, and even more so when I read “Bloodchild” ( I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to get to another one of her books! Especially as “Parable of the Sower” is a rather prescient kind of post-apocalyptic novel, the kind that
(Feb 2016, adjusted rating down after reading Dawn. Butler did do much better.)

This might have been the must-read dystopia of the 90s. Perhaps it isn't because Butler tries too hard. Or readers can't see past the obvious shortcomings.

Dystopias have been with us since 1984 and Brave New World, and Utopia's since Mores and even Plato's Timaeus. But Parable of the Sower could have been this generation's dystopia. A really engaging, challenging story of believable, empathetic characters. Great socia
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a fantastic book to finish off my reading month! A full 5 starts and possibly a new all time favorite.
Sanne | Booksandquills
Read this for my #endoftheworldbookclub. Such a bleak and horrible story, but incredibly compelling at the same time.
This was a compulsive page-turner for me.

Compared with at least one contemporary USian perspective, say, that of the low waged service worker, Lauren lives in one version of utopia: a close-knit community, like a village, shaped by an ethics of care and mutual support. She does not have to work, except to share the unalienated labour of social reproduction (childcare, food preparation, education of the young) which leaves her time to pursue her own preoccupations*. The person in her family who p
I only gave this book 2.5 stars but rounded it up to 3 stars on Goodreads due to Goodreads not having half stars available.

So I always hate it when I notice friends who I follow and trust for book recs loved a book and I ended up disliking it. I feel badly about it and then I feel guilty because I write a review talking about things that they really enjoyed.

I read this book as part of Dead Writers Society Genre Challenge for the month of March. I can say I loved the other book I read and thoug
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book is a perfect YA Dystopia. One word for this book: believable. The characters are believable and sympathetic. The setting is grim dark, and yet believable. It might be one of my best reads for 2017.

At first, The dystopia setting seems mundane without any special kind of disaster. the bleak situation seems so realistic, I admit some aspects of them already facts, not science fiction. I could engage with some of them due to similarities with Jakarta's 1998 riot. (view spoiler)
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my! I can’t stop thinking about this book. I want to read the next part right away, but I have borrowed books from friends that I need to finish first.

I thought this book blew Butler’s “Xenogenesis” series out of the water.

But you also have to look at it this way, Religion is a subject that I am constantly studying. So seeing Butler’s created religion was mind blowing.

Other aspects of this story also ring true. Butler wrote this story towards the end of the 20th Century and set it in 2024 t
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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)
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preacher's daughters, "post-racial" Americans, hyper-empaths
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, fiction
This is a riveting story about Lauren, a 15-year old girl in a dying world. Climate change has made the world warmer, and Lauren lives in a very dry California. She lives with her adopted family, before her neighborhood is destroyed by desperate people. It seems to be everybody for himself. This is a dystopia novel, where one small mistake can mean death by any number of ways--usually murder.

This is one of those books I just couldn't put down. It is so intense, and so engaging on different level
Dannii Elle
This is a really intense and interesting insight into a scarily believable future of our world. With water scarce and sold at an all-time premium and with the subsequent abolishment of the structured societal hierarchy as we know it, anarchy reigns on Earth.

Lauren lives a relatively safe life inside the confines of her walled community, on the outskirts of LA. Lauren's preacher father strove to create a community that thrived on the now almost-obsolete religious teachings he believes in. He exce
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Primrose Jess
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the best parts about being in a book club is that sometimes the picks would never be what you would have chosen for yourself. My Litsy Goes Postal group has so far brought two books to my radar that I never would have picked up if left to my own devices. I didn't LOVE either of them but at the same time, I loved I was challenged to reach beyond my reading comfort zone.

My Reactions:

-The reading flow was choppy for me initially. I really didn't get into the reading groove of this one unti
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Blonde Roots
  • Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1)
  • Space Struck
  • Are Prisons Obsolete?
  • How to Be an Antiracist
  • Parable of the Sower
  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
  • The Vanishing Half
  • The Fire Next Time
  • In the Dream House: A Memoir
  • Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)
  • Transcendent Kingdom
  • Binti (Binti, #1)
See similar books…
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.

Other books in the series

Earthseed (3 books)
  • Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)
  • Earthseed: The Complete Series

Articles featuring this book

Until this summer, Lindsay Ellis was mainly known as a super smart and witty film critic and YouTube essayist, making videos that range from...
163 likes · 16 comments
“There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.”
“All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change.” 70 likes
More quotes…