Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)” as Want to Read:
Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Xenogenesis #3)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  12,549 ratings  ·  897 reviews
The stunning conclusion to a postapocalyptic trilogy about an alien species merging with humans—from “one of science fiction’s finest writers” (TheNew York Times).
Human and Oankali have been mating since the aliens first came to Earth to rescue the few survivors of an annihilating nuclear war. The Oankali began a massive breeding project, guided by the ooloi, a sexless su
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Aspect (first published May 1989)
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 Imago, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Dichotomy Girl The closest that I can think of is, "Nothing Human" by Nancy Kress, because it also deals with what it meals to be human.…moreThe closest that I can think of is, "Nothing Human" by Nancy Kress, because it also deals with what it meals to be human.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,549 ratings  ·  897 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The last volume of the mind blowing, thought provoking Lilith’s Brood series (I prefer the original name Xenogenesis myself, it has a nice sci-fi ring to it).

Jodahs the protagonist of this book is another offspring of Lilith Iyapo. The least human of the series' central characters, especially after its first metamorphosis. As Jodahs is neither male or female, and certainly not a hermaphrodite, the pronoun it is the only appropriate one for referring to characters of the “ooloi” gender; he third
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Listen, no part of me is more definitive of who I am than my brain.”

Octavia Butler, Author Info, Published Books, Bio, Photo, Video ...

Octavia's Butler's Imago is a fabulous finale to the Xenogenesis Trilogy. The perspective once again shifts as it has in previous books, from Lilith in the first book to Akin in the second book and finally to Jodals, an ooloi-human construct. What's perhaps most impressive is the depiction of Jodahs' perspective; this is a perspective that is demonstrably not human. There is a also a morality here that feels alien and sometimes
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! A stunning ending to a magnificent science fiction trilogy, Imago is brilliant. Octavia Butler creates an earth now almost completely made up of the aliens, their human mates, their children and now a new type of offspring. The aliens have 3 sexes, male, female and it. They have deliberately not allowed humans to reproduce by themselves any more, because of their historic violence and hierarchy. They have also only allowed males and female constructs to be created from their matings with hu ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Maybe I'll be in the minority by preferring the middle book out of the entire series, but the last one definitely puts everything in perspective. We start out from the purely human perspective in the first, the hybrid perspective in the second, and end with an entirely new perspective of a new Ooloi who now threatens the gene-line of the Ooloi, being the most alien out of all the bunch but with a singular interesting gift...

Of humanity. :)

Enough time has passed since the first book that history
WOW! What a perfect end to this great series! Definitely the strongest book in my opinion.

Will I recommend the series? Only to a certain extant. It's a heavy read, not because of the style or the descriptions, but because of the existential questions you are constantly being bombarded with. It's a world where you can't even decide what's truly wrong or what's truly right, it can be quite infuriating if you try to pick sides.
Basically, if you like dystopian books with "peaceful, well-meaning" a
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Imago: Finally, we see the Ooloi perspective
Originally published at Fantasy Literature
Imago (1988) is the third book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy. It concludes the story begun with the human woman Lilith in Dawn (1987) and continued with her Oankali-human ‘construct’ son Akin in Adulthood Rites (1988). Imago takes the bold but logical next step by shifting the perspective to Jodahs, an Ooloi-human construct. The Ooloi are the third, gender-less sex of the Oankali, the alien race of ‘g
In the third book of her Xenogenesis series, Octavia Butler gives us the alien’s perspective. It makes the Oankali marginally less creepy, but only a tiny bit. Butler excels at creating truly alien life forms, with wildly different forms of reproduction.

The Oankali having stinging cells and tentacles, giving them some resemblance to jellyfish (Cniderians) in our world, but they are upright walking, hand-and-arm-possessing, intelligent life forms. And, it turns out, they have a three stage metamo
The oankali have three sexes: female, male, and ooloi. The ooloi is a crucial part of the reproduction process as it controls and manipulates genes and is responsible for the gene trade. Up until now in the story, there have only been male and female construct children. The creation of a construct ooloi has only been discussed, but not yet attempted until now.

Imago tells the story of Jodahs, the first ooloi construct. This book ties the previous two together seamlessly by showing what Jodahs is
Jul 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Spoiler Alert. The following is a metaphorical plot summary of Octavia Butler’s Imago.

The scene is a meet-up night club. A and B are strangers to one another. A sneaks up behind B and whispers.

A: If I don’t have sex with you, I’ll die.

B whirls around and faces him angrily.

B: You are disgusting! Get away from me!
A: Oh, don’t be like that. Here, let me just touch you like this.

B screams.

B: Get your limbs off me! I told you you disgust me! Go away!
A: If you would just be still and let me finish
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Michael
Shelves: science-fiction
In an nuclear apocalypse, humans have virtually wiped out life on Earth. From the aliens' point of view, their rescue of humans and repopulation of Earth is for their own good. Without cross-breeding with humans, and blending their DNA with that of humans, the human race is on a direct course for extinction. Human predilection for forming hierarchical societies is the basis for human self-destruction.

But the aliens have their own survival in mind, also. Their motivation is not entirely altruisti
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep-thoughts, sci-fi
If the first two volumes are written in third person, this last part is told in first one, which makes it even more harder for the reader not to be involved in the story.

However, despite the never-ending feeling of discomfort, it is mainly an ode to life and love.

“[…] I think I became all the things he liked, even though he never told me what they were.” “His body told you. His every look, his reaction, his touch, his scent. He never stopped telling you what he wanted. And since he was the sole
Maggie K
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
hmmmm....somehow, I am suspicious of being manipulated into liking this book.

This last installment of Butler's trilogy has us seeing the inside view of the ooloi, the 'third sex' of the aliens that have taken over Earth. Ooloi operate by using their pheromones and sensory arms to calm and pleasure humans. Once this happens to you, you decide you like them and literally cannot live with out them.

What we don't know is how bad they NEED humans. If they don't have human contact, they literally go in
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
One of the best scifi series ever, and what's interesting, it remained just as good throughout the entire three books. I am in awe. ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
A solid read, though an interesting shift from third person to first person perspective for this last installment.

I stand by the idea that this is my least favorite of Butler’s works that I’ve read thus far. But it’s still a very good series & explores some really interesting ideas about humanity, individuality, independence, and codependence. I’m glad to add the series to my shelves & I’m excited to read more from Butler.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Butler really was a genius.

This is the kind of book/series that I wish was read in English classes, because it is both an intensely absorbing narrative and a perfect jumping-off point for a myriad of discussions: about consent, biological determinism, transhumanism, the extent to which we can ever truly understand other people... it is thought-provoking and rich without being didactic. You could argue that the Oankali truly have destroyed humanity just as well as you could argue that they h
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this is the last in the Xenogenesis or Lilth's Brood series written by Octavia E. Butler.

I liked this one a lot. We once again focus on just one POV throughout the entire novel. We have Lilth's son Jodahs who is born an Oankali construct (humans and Oankali breed with the help of an Oankali called ooloi) and every child born has 5 parents. The ooloi, a sexless subspecies capable of manipulating DNA and without them no one would be able to have children. Jodahs starts to metamorphosis and real
Ben Winch
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, sci-fi
I’ve never read, seen or heard of anything like this before, and short of a post-Octavia Butler movement I don’t expect to. Alien invasion without violence, “kill ’em with kindness” tale, inter-species family drama. Along the way it manages – playfully, but with requisite seriousness – to upturn myriad taboos, from the gender-bending of its first-person, part-alien protagonist to various configurations of sexual intercourse, all of them tempered and enlightened by their part-alien context. Other ...more
In this final book of the Xenogenesis trilogy, the focus shifts again, this time to another of Lilith's sons, Jodahs, who turns out to be the first human-born ooloi (the third Oankali gender). He is considered a mistake by the Oankali and must struggle to find mates and carve a place for himself in the world.

This is the only book told in first person which makes it more intimate but I never connected with Jodahs as I did with Akin in Adulthood Rites. I was also disappointed that we see nothing o
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Imago is the third and final entry in the Lilith’s Brood series. Honestly, I found it to be the weakest entry by far.

Imago is a much more focused story than either Dawn or Adulthood Rites. It really does not add much to the lore. The setting has not changed much. No broad decisions are made the way that Dawn had the resettling and interbreeding of humans and Adulthood Rites had the establishment of the Mars colony. Instead, it focuses almost entirely on Jodahs’ internal experience of transformin
An unexpectedly good final installment to the creepy but fascinating Xenogenesis trilogy. Butler does ethical quandaries very well though she does find some very cerebral, awful new forms of oppression and enslavement.

4+ Stars

Read on kindle
Britta Böhler
This series introduced me to Octavia Butler (whom I hadn't read before, shame on me) and I loved it! Book 1 and 3 are the best in my opinion, and the series as a whole is amazing.
Inventive and beautifully written Butler is able to create aliens who feel real. Although first published in the 1980ies, the books' themes are now even more relevant: gender, xenophobia, intolerance (can we accept people with life choices we think are deeply wrong?)
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
In "Dawn," Lilith wants a choice, and it is denied to her at every opportunity. She has to live with that, and we as readers have to decide if her captivity is morally acceptable. We are as human as she, and we share her conflict.

In "Adulthood Rites," Akin wants a chance and has to fight to allow that Human part of him its expression, its freedom. Akin is a construct, and while we obviously side with him, we are given a deeper understanding of the Oankali morality.

In "Imago," Jodahs wants a chal
This is the book that I first saw by Octavia Butler. It was the final installment of a trilogy so I started with Dawn.
I like Jodahs quite a bit and find their story fascinating.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
Octavia Butler is a genius. She is a master of story telling and a master world builder. I admire her style, the simplicity of her writing and the various intricately woven meanings in her stories.
This last book though. I think that I'd had my fill of the issue of cross species mating in the first two books such that in this last book... well it sort of spilled over but not in a nice enjoyable way.
The overwhelming message/concern/point/question in the Xenogenesis trilogy is: are you really helpi
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
The one where Jodahs, the first ooloi born of both human and oankali genes, achieves adulthood and finds a family.

This is the most optimistic of the three books, though pointed references to the effects of ooloi scent on human reason make it clear that the author doesn't want us to be able to rest comfortably with the idea that these relationships are entirely consensual.

It would have been interesting to read books that revolved around breaking taboos that had more visceral meaning to me; sibli
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-love-this-book
Reading this book again because it is my favourite in the series. This sounds crazy but an ooloi human construct is one fictional thing I'd like to be! It would be so awesome to be a third sex that can heal and learn so much about organisms!!!!

August 2015

This book is still good but I notice some of the ableism more. Still, I want to be an ooloi human construct. It's really the best book in the series, to look at the perspective of such a fascinating and alien being who can shapeshift and seduces
Jodahs is my favorite of the construct characters. I love that they are so kind and seductive.
Also their pronoun 'they' has aged well.
I loved this series! I'm going to miss these characters. ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As irresistible as a construct ooloi. I want more!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Vegan Book Club: Imago (Xenogenesis #3) by Octavia E. Butler 1 5 Oct 12, 2019 09:20AM  
Science Fiction A...: Xenogenesis 3 - Imago 9 49 Dec 21, 2014 09:05AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)
  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
  • Home (Binti, #2)
  • The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3)
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts
  • Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
  • The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance, #2)
  • Brown Girl in the Ring
  • The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance, #3)
  • The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance, #1)
  • The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #6)
  • Binti (Binti, #1)
  • Remote Control
  • Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5)
  • Who Fears Death (Who Fears Death, #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.

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

Other books in the series

Xenogenesis (3 books)
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
  • Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis, #2)

Related Articles

  Luvvie Ajayi Jones—author, cultural critic, digital entrepreneur—might be best described as a professional truthteller. Her crazily popular...
20 likes · 0 comments
“Humans said one thing with their bodies and another with their mouths and everyone had to spend time and energy figuring out what they really meant.” 10 likes
“Listen, no part of me is more definitive of who I am than my brain.” 6 likes
More quotes…