This first book in Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy takes place entirely aboard an alien race's massive living spaceship. Confining events to a few rooms is not good if you're looking for lots of fast paced action. The story rather focuses on thoughtful development of main character Lilith. This is what you should expect from 1995 MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant" recipient Octavia E. Butler.
In short, Lilith is one of a few survivors of man's nuclear war on earth. She was "rescued" by an alien race which wishes to reestablish the nearly extinct human species. This help requires a trade-off. Humans must accept extensive genetic modification that will not only improve their chances for re-settling post-apocalypse earth, but will require accepting something more.
What is it that makes us "human?" What can we surrender and still be human? A thoughtful read. Recommended. Look for "Imago" and "Adulthood Rites" to continue story. Note, "Lilith's Brood" contains all three in one 700+ page book.
Humans came very close to wiping themselves out in a nuclear war, but the survivors were saved by the Oankali, for a price. The Oankali are determined to interbreed, and in a single generation there will be no more humans. Through the eyes of aliens, and by comparison, Butler gives a deeply insightful look at what it means to be human.
Octavia Butler is an acquired taste. Her writing is decriptive, detailed, and I've had a few people who I've given her books to say she was too descriptive. To me, her stories, most importantly "Dawn" is like being pulled into another world. Her characters become three dimensional, and she has an ability to make each character, large or small in importance, seem to jump off of the page. Her decriptions sometimes frustrate me when I'm waiting to see what happens next, but the story pulls me in so much that I have no choice. Im addicted to her now, as I was the first time I read her books. She reminds me of a more contemporary, and science fiction version of Michener, whose descriptive wrtiting is unparralled. Dawn is about a group of aliens who save Earth after a nuclear war and help them repopulate the earth - at a price. The main charcter, Lillith, is smart and naive, strong and weak - utterly human. I admire the creation. You will enjoy this book, I think. It is part of a trilogy. Next is Adulthood Rites, the Imago. You can get it as a bundle (which is what I did) - all three books sold in one. It is called Lillith's Brood. If you like the first one, better to get the collection.
Really interesting tale of psychology, adaption, and evolution, all wrapped up in an alien invasion and conquering through genetic manipulation. I'm not a fan of really "hard" science fiction. I get lost in the science part ;) However, this book doesn't go so far into science "fact" and remains well based in the "fiction". Well worth reading and is a book you'll probably end up thinking about afterwards, even if you didn't think you would. I read this for a literature class at university and kept it afterwards. I've re-read it several times and have now somehow ended up with two copies, so I'm passing one on.
I really enjoy reading Butler's work (and I'm sad there will be no more).... but Dawn is my absolute favorite. A taut, well-written tome on race, the other, differences, and what we're doing to our planet. Highly recommended.
Octavia Butler is an outstanding author. With that being said, this series made me furious--not because of the writing style, but the premise behind the series. A few humans decide to commit extinction of our species through nuclear war (I guess to cleanse the Earth although it is never stated why). The Oankali (tentacled aliens) sweep in and save the few of us that survive, placing the survivors into suspended animation until Earth is healed of the radiation and ready to be recolonized. The price for saving us is that humans will no longer be able to have children on their own, but will instead have their genes "traded" with the Oankali to create hybrids. This doesn't take place through sex, well at least not a form of sex we would recognize, but rather through the non-gender Ooloi (Oankali who are natural genetic engineers). The resulting hybrids may start off looking human, but their alienness soon becomes apparent when they reach adulthood. Once the humans that survived the nuclear war die, there will be no more humans--rather a hybrid race that will eventually strip the Earth of resources and take off into space to find another species to "trade" with.
What made me angry about this--and perhaps that was Butler's point--is throughout the book the Oankali kept saying that humans were flawed because of our hierarchical nature, yet they lord over us in everything. They changed the way we lived, what food we ate, took away our humanity (humans that refused to mate with them had a choice to either die sterile, be put in suspended animation and have their genes taken anyway, or be exiled to Mars whereas humans that did agree to mate with them were never able to have sex with another human again). What made this right and us wrong?
I really enjoyed this novel. It raises a lot of questions about identity, both individual and as a species. It was interesting how Butler predicted how different types of people would react to this extreme situation and what her characters reveal that she thought about human nature. I will definitely read the rest of the Xenogenesis series.
Very well crafted story with great characterization, many layered, complex social understanding, realistic portrayal of human interaction, intellectual, scientifically well-done. One of the few I rate 5 stars.
Superb. Stunning. Wonderful. Brilliant. I can't say anything bad about this book. Usually, in novels, I can easily pick a "side" and stick with it. In this one ... the issues were presented SO well that I could see both sides, and had no real idea what I would choose in such a situation. The conflict, drama was so well presented. I found myself cheering for both sides, angry with both sides, conflicted ... the book really made me think. Just brilliant.
On top of all of that, the writing is fantastic. I could not put this book down. I stayed up until 3AM reading it!