TheFountainPenDiva's Reviews > Fledgling

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
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Firstly, I wish there was a way to give this novel TEN STARS because like every single book she's ever written, it is a masterpiece of surperb writing, compelling characters and thought-provoking themes like sex, race and class - issues seldom dealt with in even the finest speculative fiction.

Only in the hands of a skilled author could new life be breathed into the quickly becoming stale vampire genre, and Ms. Butler succeeds where so many others fail. Anyone looking for Anne Rice will be sadly disappointed.

Shori, the novel's protagonist, is a complex creature. She is no brooding Louis nor an amoral Lestat, but a 53 year-old woman who outwardly looks like a ten year-old girl. When we first meet her, she is gravely injured and has no memory of where she is or even who she is. Slowly emerging from her place of hiding, she is picked up by a young man named Wright, who takes her home and cares for her. What follows from there is guaranteed to play with one's perceptions of age and sexuality and though as a reader we are more than aware of Shori's true age (and Ms. Butler writes Shori with such skill, there is no way to mistake her for anything but her true age), as a reader we are gently nudged into accepting their relationship without any qualm, especially when Shori and Wright make love. Instead of playing to shock value or prurience, the eroticism between Shori and Wright is handled wonderfully.

As the novel progresses, Shori learns her true heritage - that she is Ina, a race of vampires whose beginnings are swathed in mystery. She learns that she is the first of her kind, her dark skin allows her to go into the sunlight, something the other Ina cannot do. She also learns the ways of her people - of keeping humans (known as symbionts or syms) not merely as sustenance, but as companions and lovers. Kinship figures prominently in Ina and Sym society, and both live together in a somewhat utopian existence. There are questions of whom needs whom the most - Ina or syms - and the subtle threads of what could be viewed as a co-dependent relationship. Ina may live long, but they need not only the blood, but the vitality of their syms to exist. The syms become addicted to a toxin in the Ina's bodies that keep them young and free of disease.

As we learn later, and not surprising, there is also deep-seated prejudice amongst the Ina, who may pretend to have progressed beyond such petty concerns as racism, and there are those who do not see Shori as being one of them, merely a genetic experiment.

Fledgling is a multihued tapestry of a novel, a world of darkness and light that I didn't want to leave. Shori is a strong, resourceful and yet manages to engage us readers with her humanity. It's one of those novels that left me feeling as if Shori, Wright and all of the characters truly existed.
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Reading Progress

09/22/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by L'Poni (new) - added it

L'Poni I'm still wondering if I should read this. I'm not a big fan of novels because most of them bore me. I like the Lolita Complex but is it really worth it?

Kaethe This is an excellent novel.

Spider the Doof Warrior It is. But then there's the SQUICK. But it's still really interesting.

Kaethe It's a cool trick, because it manages to be sexy without ever feeling leering. We know that she looks like a child, but there's never any question, as you point out, but that she is fully adult. Unlike, say, Lolita, the reader always knows that there is enthusiastic consent.

Spider the Doof Warrior Indeed. That decreases the squick factor slightly...

Vampires and such are supposed to be a bit squicky. They are not human.

Kaethe Some writers have forgotten that vampires are horrific.

Spider the Doof Warrior *coughstephaniemeyers*

Kaethe Exactly.

TheFountainPenDiva Kaethe wrote: "Some writers have forgotten that vampires are horrific."


Spider the Doof Warrior W00t. That hotty fox.

I have to make my werewolves a bit more horrific, but really wolves = family. People forget that.

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