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Parable of the Sower

(Earthseed #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  111,196 ratings  ·  11,627 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)
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Charles Sheehan I come from the future. He won. It's four months into the Trump presidency. It's worse than you could imagine. Leave now. …moreI come from the future. He won. It's four months into the Trump presidency. It's worse than you could imagine. Leave now. (less)
Val It's the character’s writing. Octavia E. Butler's works are wonderful, unique, and certainly transcending. Her other works are written well. I’ve read…moreIt's the character’s writing. Octavia E. Butler's works are wonderful, unique, and certainly transcending. Her other works are written well. I’ve read most all of her books. I studied her in college. This woman’s stories should be required reading in schools. Learn about the author. Watch some of her interviews. This woman has contributed to the human race tremendously, and helped me to look through a different lens. Exactly what a story should do -- take me somewhere else, and suspend my disbelief. (less)

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Rick Riordan
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 outside LA, but she knows that their little island of relative safety will ...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 sea. 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
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
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
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's Parable of the Sower

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
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
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! ...more
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
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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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
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
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 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's 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 social co
AMERIE'S BOOK CLUB January 2021 Selection!

Harsh, heartbreaking, hopeful. And unapologetically 👏🏽 un👏🏽sub👏🏽tle. Yes.

In Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler looks both forward and backward, and she does not flinch from humanity’s atrocities. The story not only reflects life in broadstrokes—climate change, power, feminism, racism—but also in intimate detail as we follow wise and rarely-gifted fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina on her journey toward safety, discovery, and a new belief system. My hea
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-2018, 4-star
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
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
“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
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
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
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.
David Putnam
Oct 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I liked this mostly for the unique structure and voice. The author does a great job establishing a near-future dystopia that is both intriguing and at the same time engaging. The main character is a young girl who is an em-path. Readers read for emotion, so this setup is an excellent way to display a great breadth of emotions. The structure is a diary each episode or day is a chapter heading or scene break. The story is in narrative and rarely goes into scene this keeps the reader from dropping ...more
I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to "Parable of Talents". This was my first Octavia Butler novel, and it was entirely different than I expected. I am a sci fi fan and this book did not entirely fit that description (this is not a criticism). Butler was able to immerse me into a world that was scary and brutal, yet not altogether unfathomable. In my mind, that is what was scariest. She diagramed a world of the poor and more or less ignored, only occasionally giving the reader a glimps ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ebook
The premise was catchy, but I had no idea it would basically turn into an endless episode of Dystopian God Talk and be mired in some pretty godawful pedantic prose that reminded me of Twilight at its worst, such as:

I waited until I heard Cory go to her room and shut the door. Then I got up, shut my door, moved my lamp so the light wouldn't show under the door, then turned it on and opened my grandmother's Bible.

Good gravy. D:

Cue the epic "Bella puts a CD in a player" scene that, somehow, has be
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 (formerly Eccentric Muse)
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse) by: jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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)
May 31, 2022 rated it it was amazing
wow. just incredible
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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.

After her father died, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Octavia found an outlet at the li

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