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(Xenogenesis #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  24,306 ratings  ·  2,385 reviews
Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatev ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published April 1997 by Warner Books (first published May 1987)
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Kevin Kelsey
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
I've never really read anything like this before. It had some of the most alien aliens I've ever come across, and it spends a lot of time exporing their physiology, gender, sexuality, and society, all parts that I really enjoyed.

The whole thing is very unnerving, blunt, and extremely uncomfortable in places. This novel very much felt like the first third of a larger story, so I'll definitely be finishing this series.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was utterly compelled. When I got to the end, I was so hungry for the next book I was actually frustrated not to have it to hand. The last book I enjoyed nearly this much was The Lathe of Heaven so I guess I need to give in and accept that speculative fiction with feminist consciouness is my true love.

I love that Lilith is angry with her captors, that she doesn't lose her drive to be free, ever. In many ways I felt the book was about consent - what does consent really mean when your opti
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of sci-fi and aliens
As one of the earliest African-American female science fiction writers, Octavia Butler is a must for anyone who reads sci-fi. Fourteen of her works were nominated for the Locus Award during her career, including each book in the Xenogenesis series, but she only had one win, the novelette “Bloodchild.” Dawn is the first book in the Xenogenesis series, published in 1987, and is a science fiction classic. It achieves what the best in science fiction has to offer: by looking at humanity’s interactio ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Aliens save the human race from themselves.

Octavia Butler’s 1987 novel Dawn begins her Xenogenesis trilogy (the series was titled Lilith's Brood in the Omnibus that was published in 2000). She would continue the story with Adulthood Rites in 1988 and complete the set with Imago in 1989.

Essentially, the world has been devastated by a nuclear war and all that remains of humanity are a few straggler survivors who are picked up by an alien race who has been observing us. Butler spends little time here though; we get to know the protagonist Lilith,
Richard Derus
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5* of five

I'm wore out, wrung out, and tuckered out. I'll get a review up before long.

Meantime, look at the notes I've left.

And leave us not to forget that, in this troubled passage in US and world history, the present Golden Age of Sci Fi on Screen will gift us with the first-ever adaptation of a Butler novel, this one, by no less a new voice than Ava DuVernay. She is the talent behind the good-buzzed adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time!

The Publisher Says: Lilith Iyapo/>The
Brown Girl Reading
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the second book I've read by Octavia Butler and I'm completely impressed by the complexity and intrigue of this story. I was afraid that being sci-fi I would find it difficult to get into the story and that there would be so much to digest that I would miss something. However that is not the case. The story is told with extremely adept writing and Butler definitely took into consideration that she was trying to entertain while saying something. So what is she saying? Tons of stuff! She m ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Apatt
I loved the almost elegant and unrelenting unfolding of a most unusual alien apocalypse. The Oankali are the saviors of humankind after a nuclear war, preserving a population of survivors in a form of suspension while working to facilitate recovery of planetary ecology. But at what a cost. Their agenda is to merge genetically with humans to make a new species.

That plot overview is certainly a spoiler, but that is what is rendered for a draw on the book’s cover. It’s really okay because we are w
Christina White
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I have such conflicted feelings about this book. I found it both brilliant and disturbing in equal measure. The beginning introduces the reader to a strange and terrifying situation that sucks you in right away. The horror at some revelations is delivered so realistically that I found myself clenching my teeth and trying to hide in the pillows I was reading on. I was very impressed. The more I read on though, the more unsettling things became. Near the last quarter of the book Octavia crossed a ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
A large octupus-alien has a pretty realistic threesome with two-dimensional humanoids. Dreams are made of this--well, but not my dreams. Nor nightmares. "Dawn" remains prime example of the reasoning behind my headstrong, unwavering apathy for most Sci-fi novels.
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My god, what did I just read...

I don’t think I was ever so aware of my body and my safety and my breathing space as I am now. One’s body is perceived as a temple; defile it and you’ll break that person for life.

This book is not about humanity being self-obliterated, or close encounter of 5th kind or more. It doesn’t even have action. So, if you expect battles and how we prevail in the face of bad aliens, don’t.

It's all about the interaction between the two species, or be
Jennifer Theriault
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019-shelf
I'm half-tempted to hold off on a review until I read the full trilogy. I've come to understand that the full story isn't explored until we've read the whole thing... BUT since this was published as the first book, here I go, anyway. :)

This is quite a bit different from Kindred, focusing instead on the social, emotional, and physical changes associated with being awoken in captivity among some very strange and awesome alien-aliens. This isn't Star Trek. It's more of a Cthuhlu encount
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have been squirreling away Octavia Butler books. I consider myself an avid fan of her works yet I have only read two of her novels so far (Wild Seed and Kindred), and the last one was sometime last year. My rationale is that there are only a finite number of Butler books available to read as the lady is no longer with us. If I binge on them now there wi ...more
Dawn: Aliens grant humans a second chance — at a price
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Dawn (1987) is the first book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy, written after her PATTERNIST series. By this point she had been writing challenging science fiction novels for a decade, and her writing craft and ideas had reached a high level. Dawn is a very impressive book. Imagine that mankind has largely destroyed itself and the planet — it’s a fairly common doomsday scenario.

But instead of the survivor
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Going to hold off on a review for now, and blog about the whole trilogy when I finish it.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like zombie-lit does with undead hordes (but seriously, done waaayyy better), Butler uses ETs as the mirror held to humanity to show us our strengths and (mostly) our weaknesses.

This is a compelling narrative with a rich, well crafted female protagonist and science-fiction elements interesting to both veterans of the genre and initiates alike. I read this aloud to my wife - a reader not particularly interested in SciFi - and as soon as I finished the book she asked me to start the next one in t
What an unsettling little book! I stayed up late last night to finish it and I awoke this morning with it still on my mind (and I think I dreamed about it too). Octavia Butler is skilled at making me re-examine my beliefs about humanity.

The Oankali are interesting and somewhat threatening aliens. Their evolutionary history seems to have come from the echinoderm or cnidarian branches of the tree of life and their appearance is initially terrifying to any human. Our protagonist, Lilith
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Okay. So how do I describe this really weird sci-fi book that masquerades as horror. Not hunt you down alone on a ship Alien horror, more like subtly psychologically really disturbing (to me anyway) sci-fi.
The basic situation is a girl, Lilith, (for mythology fans, please note the symbolism) is the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust and is left with the responsibilities of awakening the other humans from a deep sleep, telling them they are on an alien ship, leading them to earth, and, of
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for well-written thoughtful sci-fi
Recommended to Mimi by: carol.
Dawn begins with Lilith Iyapo awakening in solitary confinement. She later learns she's on a living space ship, held as a captive by the oankali, an alien race. There had been a war several years ago on Earth that destroyed the planet and almost wiped out the human race. A few survivors were rescued and brought to the ship. All were healed but left sedated for the time being; a select few will be awoken, like Lilith, once it’s time to return to Earth and resettle the planet.

There’s a cat
Lilia Ford
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I sought this out deliberately as the best way I could think of to protest this year's Hugo Award debacle, though I wasn't sure I'd like it since it definitely falls closer to the "speculative" end of the sci-fi spectrum than what I usually read--or enjoy. Well, so much for that worry. I couldn't put it down. I mean that literally: I was supposed to go out to dinner and I ended up cancelling so I could finish it. I totally get why it's so acclaimed: the set up is bracingly original, and the look ...more
Jul 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
Recommended to David by: Michael
Shelves: science-fiction
Although I have read a lot of science fiction, I had never even heard of Octavia Butler before reading this book. But I am so glad that I read it, and the next two books of the Xenogenesis series.

This is an excellent sci-fi novel about Lillith, a young woman in the after-days of a nuclear apocalypse on Earth. She is one of a few survivors, just barely alive, picked up by an alien race in a spacecraft. She is brought back to health, but kept in almost total isolation. She is pretty much clueless
Kate (KayvaJuice)
This was an awesome sci-fi that discussed a lot of issues that left you thinking. For example, freedom and survival are big themes in the book and are expanded on with the character's actions and points of view. One thing I really like was getting to know the human's perspective alongside the alien's perspective. It's definitely a very interesting book and it was one that got me interesting in reading more science fiction for the sake of learning new things and thinking of things differently. I ...more
Executive Summary: A well written and very different story that just made me uncomfortable the whole time. It wasn't exactly my type of book, but it may be yours.

Full Review
These sorts of reviews are the hardest to write. For books I love, the reviews usually come pretty easily. For books I don't, I try to express why I didn't like the book without ranting about it and then move on and don't worry too much about the quality of the review.

This book falls somewhere in between. It really/>
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Butler is an author I’ve been meaning to read forever and this was an intriguing place to start. The dilemma of Lillith, deciding the fate of humanity and resigning herself to be the betrayer, was tense and well thought out. The characters themselves were nuanced and made me seriously look at how I thought about prejudice, human-ness, and my attitude to the new and unknown. I look forward to seeing how she moves the world forward in the next book. A reflective and meditative, yet dramatic, read.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant characters and complex future world are developed in this first of a 3 part series, Dawn is superb. Why did I stop reading Octavia Butler after my delight in Kindred and The Parable of the Sower?
I was afraid to start the Xenogenesis trilogy because I knew there’d be issues with consent. Some reviewers described it as graphic, horrific, disturbing—and they were right on all accounts, but Dawn wasn’t as graphic as I’d initially feared. That’s not to say it was an easy book to read. The Oankali violate personal boundaries, both physical and mental, and genuinely believe their actions service humanity. The Oankali strip Lilith of her right to her mind, her body, and a life of her choosing. ...more
Flatlined @ 74% ⚰

I can't believe this was considered to be one of the most TERRIFYING horror books ever by Barnes and Noble. Yeah...okay...NOT!

I should have called it sooner but the stunning writing and narrator performance kept me hanging on. Alas, it was a pointless effort because the story itself never improved for me.

When I choose a SciFi book, I'm hoping for action adventure, thrilling suspense and a healthy dose of explicit violence. I got none of that. What I got inste
Fascinating from so many points of view! Beautifully written and deeply insightful. I can't think of any other book I've read that tells a similar story and I found this a very unique tale which was brilliantly told.

This was my first Octavia E. Butler and it more than lived up to all the wonderful things I'd heard about her work. The insights into human nature are too plentiful to list, made without seeming to try. The aliens are striking and just so alien. One of the best examples of the insight int
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have many questions. Nothing to do with the book, but with myself. What I mean to say is that the book has created this intense inner dialogue. You know, where suddenly you find yourself speaking out loud to yourself.

I love aliens. No, I don't LOVE aliens. I love the idea of aliens. I am terrified of aliens. We have created many images of what we think aliens might look like, and we have also created ideas of how we would react to them. While I love it all, from Arnie and his "You
Allison Hurd
Dawn was certainly my favorite of the three Butler books I've now read, but that's not as strong praise as I'd like it to be. I think she's imaginative and does a good job making everyone else feel her discomfort. But it feels a lot like that uncomfortable position at holiday dinners where you want to tell Grandma she can't say that, but you know you can't do that because then your discomfort will be a family feud and it's just not worth the fight. So, I think this is likely to be my last Butler ...more
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Space Opera Fans : Trying to Understand. 4 17 Oct 31, 2019 07:29AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) 3 23 Dec 18, 2018 11:51AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: This topic has been closed to new comments. “Dawn” by Octavia E. Butler (BR) 46 38 Sep 18, 2018 06:44AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Dawn" Final Thoughts *Spoilers* 28 243 Sep 16, 2018 11:44AM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Xenogenesis (3 books)
  • Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)
  • Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)
“You have a mismatched pair of genetic characteristics. Either alone would have been useful, would have aided the survival of your species. But the two together are lethal. It was only a matter of time before they destroyed you."


Jdahya made a rustling noise that could have been a sigh, but that did not seem to comer from his mouth or throat. "You are intelligent," he said. "That's the newer of the two characteristics, and the one you might have put to work to save yourselves. You are potentially one of the most intelligent species we've found, though your focus is different from ours. Still, you had a good start in the life sciences, and even in genetics."

"What's the second characteristic?"

"You are hierarchical. That's the older and more entrenched characteristic. We saw it in your closest animal relatives and in your most distant ones. It's a terrestrial characteristic. When human intelligence served it instead of guiding it, when human intelligence did not even acknowledge it as problem, but took pride in it or din not notice it at all..." The rattling sounded again.”
“Yes,” he said, “intelligence does enable you to deny facts you dislike. But your denial doesn’t matter.” 11 likes
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