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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  28,353 Ratings  ·  2,702 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 cul
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 1993)
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Daniel Key Ok, literally in the Parable of the Talents there is a political candidate who says he wants to make America Great Again. It's really really weird. He…moreOk, literally in the Parable of the Talents there is a political candidate who says he wants to make America Great Again. It's really really weird. He has a lot of other similarities with Trump as well, i.e. very intolerant of other religions beside Christianity, etc. (less)
Susan Glad I saw your post! I borrowed the first edition from the public library, and it had a lot of typos! So it must be something with the first edition.…moreGlad I saw your post! I borrowed the first edition from the public library, and it had a lot of typos! So it must be something with the first edition. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
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: sci-fi, favorites
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
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 reviewer
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.
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!
(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 1948 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
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.
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
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
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.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
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
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)
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
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
Kindle deal for the Earthseed complete series for $1.13!! 7/23/17
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)
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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

It's impossible to effectively engage with a post-apocalyptic narrative when the most visible and most seriously taken savior type is doing all they can to roll out the welcome mat for the next end of days. Sure, the characters come in more colors than usual, but their conception of anti-life is still a person in a straitjacket. Sure, a number of them have a far more intimate history with the underbelly of capitalism known as slavery than is usually made critical note of, but they still thi
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 though
Apr 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Parables of Sower is an post-apocalyptic novel, from a perspective of a young Afro-American girl, reflecting her current situation after the collapse of United States of America, following the climate change disaster.

What I like most from this novel is the character building. It is what you can expect from a post-apocalyptic world. They are dogs-eat-dogs, men-eat-men, men-eat-dogs, and occasionally dogs-eat-men world, and I mean it literally. There are no room for wish wash. Life is nasty, bruti
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a dystopian future California (in the 2020s), we see the life of young Lauren Olamina turned topsy turvy as her family and community is destroyed by violence. She is a strong leader, with a unique vision of God in her own special religion. As she heads north, she gathers a group of followers, with their own issues, starting with two from her own community. By empowering these various survivors and encouraging them to protect each other and themselves, she builds a cohesive group, seeking thei ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of thought-provoking sci fi.

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
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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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)

Share This Book

“There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.”
“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
More quotes…