Book Reviews of Fledgling

Fledgling
Fledgling
Author: Octavia E. Butler
ISBN-13: 9781583226902
ISBN-10: 1583226907
Publication Date: 9/8/2005
Pages: 352
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 27

3.8 stars, based on 27 ratings
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

15 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Fledgling on + 636 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I really liked this book! The unique take on the vampire myth was original and enjoyable. It was exciting, and I am very disappointed to learn that this was Butler's last book, as I would have enjoyed a sequel! I really enjoyed this much more than I expected to, really. The characters were strong and sympathetic and the added theme of racism worked well and added a social layer that is missing from most vampire tales. I am curious to learn more about her earlier books!
reviewed Fledgling on + 774 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Definitely well-written - a very compelling read, of the taking-a-long-lunch and staying-up-too-late cause I wanna know what happens variety!

The story works on the level of a vampire thriller, but it also has a bit more than that to it.
A (very) young woman wakes, alone in a cave, horribly injured and suffering from amnesia. Healing, she gradually learns that she is a vampire.
In Butler's novel, vampires are an age-old race that has lived alongside man since the dawn of human history. They have lived in a symbiosis with the humans they feed on. The vampires do hold their symbionts somewhat in 'thrall' - humans become physically dependent on them, and vampires are able to 'hypnotically' compel one who they've bitten to obey orders, keep secrets, or forget things... but in return they receive a long, healthy lifespan, sensual pleasure, and a stable, protected life.
Butler doesn't really clue the reader in to exactly what she thinks of this trade-off, but there's lots there to think about - implications of freedom vs. security, independence and free will vs. happiness?
Especially since right now (in the story) it's not the safest time to be a vampire symbiont. Our protagonist's whole family (both human and vampire) has been violently wiped out. Are the murderers human vampire hunters who have stumbled upon the secret? Or could the guilty party be vampire as well?

The ending of the book sort of turns into an extended "courtroom drama" - which in part seems an excuse for Butler to bring in a discussion of racism and xenophobia... but, even though I'm not really a fan of that sort of literary exposition, it's very well done, and didn't lose me at all.

It's also interesting how Butler challenges the reader with her portrayal of a character who is physically perceived as a child, but who behaves in an explicitly mature manner. It's never in poor taste - but it definitely makes the reader re-examine preconceptions!
reviewed Fledgling on + 185 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
There is a lot in this novel to engage with, so I'm afraid I do have to spoil the premise to review it properly. Consider yourself warned.

I'm not a big fan of vampires (as a fictional device; I've never met one, so I have no opinion about them as people), so I can't speak to how original Butler's take on them is. It is a more science fictional take than a fantasy one, and while much of the novel is spent learning how vampire society works, the details about how it got to be that way are realistically vague, because the world-building isn't really the point.

The characters aren't really the point either, and if this book has a flaw it's that I cared very little for any of them. Shori was emotionally detached through most of the novel due to her memory loss, and that detachment infected me through her narration. Many of the other characters were, not quite interchangeable, but vague enough that I had to work to fix them in my memory so I could tell them apart, and I never succeeded in that with Brook and Celia.

The prose isn't even the point; Butler falls on the "transparent" edge of the spectrum, and if I am generous and call the narration simply plain or unadorned, I have to admit that the dialogue is frankly wooden. And while the story moves at the rapid clip suitable to a thriller, I doubt I'll remember the details of it in a week or two.

But none of that matters. Because what this book does well is what Butler always does well: it uses a science fiction premise to explore thorny social issues.

The most obvious issue explored is miscegenation. To use Blade terminology, Shori is a daywalker, and she was made that way through two separate (but linked) acts of racial mixing: her mothers used some human genetic material to create Shori (mixing Ina, or vampire, blood with human blood) and the human they chose was black (while the Ina are white, though not of European descent). Much of the tension in the novel should come from the question of how much (if at all) that mixing is the motive behind the attacks on Shori's family; it doesn't, though, because there is never any other motive advanced that the reader can seriously consider.

The more interesting issue, to me at least, is the way Butler explores the idea of consent. There are plenty of situations in this book designed to make the reader uncomfortable, and all surround what consent looks like and who is capable of giving it. Can Shori consent to having sex, when she looks like a 10 year old girl? How does the fact that she has no memory of any life before the start of the book influence that? Can a human consent to becoming a symbiont despite the physical and psychological addiction an Ina bite causes? Again, how much of a role does Shori's amnesia play in what responsibilities she has to her symbionts? Given the extreme imbalance of power, how much responsibility does any Ina have to his/her symbionts? To other Ina symbionts? What do the symbionts owe each other? Where there are clearly wrong answers with regards to miscegenation, the issue of consent is surrounded by shades of grey. . . and I found that absolutely fascinating.

This isn't the book I'd recommend people start with in Butler's catalog (so far that would be Wild Seed) but what it does it does well, and what it does is something I wish more genre fiction attempted: it makes us really think about right and wrong, rather than falling back on generic grade school morality.
reviewed Fledgling on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Octavia Butler always keeps me reading and thinking. An interesting take on how vampires could be real, yet not so destructive they kill all humans or convert them to vampires.

Also a truly interesting take on bigotry. The back made me think that it was human bigotry against vampires, but that was really not it at all. When you depend on beings, but you undoubtedly control and protect them, the relationship can easily lead to the slave - master mentalities within humans themselves. Are they just as worthy of respect, or more tools to be used.
reviewed Fledgling on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved this book! It found it really hard to put down, and I was so sad to see it end. It makes me wonder if the author had more books planned to follow this one, before she passed away. I found this an interesting twist on the vampire genre. It was very well written and completely captivating. I'd highly recommend it.
reviewed Fledgling on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I found the idea of a seemingly 10 year old girl having sex a little creepy at first. But once I got past this and realized that at 53 years of age, she is a fledgling vampire or Ina, but grown up enough for human adult activities I enjoyed the story. It is well written, engaging and offers a twist on typical vampire stories.
reviewed Fledgling on + 12 more book reviews
This was a very interesting, different type of Vampire Mythology than I've ever read before. I would like for there to be a series of stories set in this world. However, I hope they are from a different point of view. This book was told from the POV of Shori, a child Vampire with complete amnesia from grievous injuries. Therefore, the prose was rather simplistic, and kept you distanced from the other characters in the book. However, altogether a good story.
reviewed Fledgling on + 134 more book reviews
Again, one I didn't enjoy as much as her straight sci-fi, but still worth a read. I've never really enjoyed a vampire story but this one came as close as I've found to being a "realistic" interpretation of vampires and vampire lore. Shori is a delight and the racial and social analogies as written through the vampire story are spot-on as usual. The most negative thing is that clearly this book needed sequels and unfortunately will never get them :( Recommended
reviewed Fledgling on + 11 more book reviews
One of the best books I've read a new perspective on the vampire. I don't think Octavia Butler wrote a bad book I love them all.
reviewed Fledgling on + 2312 more book reviews
I have never read anything by Octavia Butler, and as she is a prominent writer in the Sci-Fi genre, I though it would be interesting to read one of her books. This is also the last book she wrote before she died. Overall it was an interesting take on vampire communities; and discussed issue of racism, sexual freedom, and immortality. I listened to this on audio and the audio production was of excellent quality; my only complaint would be that the narrator's voice is very dispassionate which lends a coldness to Shori's character.

Shori wakes up in immense pain, not knowing where she is or who she is. As time passes she heals; later she is picked up on the side of the road by Wright. Shori herself seems to be an 11 year old girl; but Wright is strangely drawn to her in very inappropriate ways. Shori realizes she needs his blood and after she takes blood from him the two of them cannot be separated. As time progresses Shori finds that she needs more than just Wright to satisfy her; she needs the blood of many. Eventually Shori finds that she is actual a 53 year old Ina; a very long lived (possibly alien) race that have a symbiotic relationship with humans. They need human blood andcompanionship to survive. For some reason someone wants Shori dead; it may be because of her dark skin and the fact that Shori is a genetic experiment to make Ina able to withstand the sun.

I didn't find any of the characters in this book to be particularly engaging, and the plot plodded along at times making it difficult to pay attention. This book is very outstanding though in the complexity of the Ina community and the mythos behind that community. This book and the race of the Ina are intricately detailed and very well thought out. This book also touches on issues concerning societal beliefs. Shori, as the only dark-skinned Ina, deals with a sort of racism. Shori appears to be 10 years old (but is really 53) and her sexual relationship with Wright may be disturbing to some readers. Shori and her Symbiants (humans that feed her) also have a very complex relationship; and Shori loves them emotionally and physically without any thought as to their gender or age.

All in all I enjoyed this book. It is an interesting take, actually a unique take, on vampire-type society. It make you think a lot about societal issues and introduces you to a whole new complex world and race. It is definitely more of a thinking book and the slow deliberate pace may put off some readers; I think that the creativity andthoughtfulness of the plot more than offset this pace though.

I am not sure if I will read more of Butler's works or not. Her writing was good but it was a bit too political for me at parts; she also seems to write book to inspire thought and as such they aren't great entertainment as much as food for thought. I would have to be in a particularly thoughtful mood to enjoy her works.
reviewed Fledgling on + 4 more book reviews
Imagine waking up in a cave, alone, injured, and not knowing how you got there. That is how we are introduced to Shori, the main character in Octavia Butler's Fledgling. On the outside, Shori appears to be a young preteen girl. In actuality, she is a 53 year old Ina vampire. Shori journeys outside of the cave to find a community that has been burned to the ground. She's assumes that this community was once her home. Lost and hungry, Shori begins walking away from the rubble, down a lonely highway. The stranger that picks her up is oblivious to the change that both of their lives are about to undergo. I really enjoyed this novel as it is not your average vampire novel. Its hard for me to fit it into any one genre. I would say it has elements of mystery, paranormal romance, and even a little history.
reviewed Fledgling on
This is a really great read, that left me wanting more. I feel saddened that this was her last book and appreciative that I was able to read it!
reviewed Fledgling on + 21 more book reviews
One of the best vampire books I've read. I was so sad that this series wasn't continued (the author died unexpectedly). It reminded me somewhat of Stephanie Meyer's Host - something about the tone and the emotional depth the writers were able to convey to the reader.
reviewed Fledgling on + 21 more book reviews
Shori is an apparently young amnesiac girl whose alarming needs and abilities lead her to a startling discovery: she is in fact a 53-year-old vampire, genetically modified to walk in the light of the day.

The only survivor of a vicious attack on her community, with no memory of her past life, Shori must now struggle to rebuild her family and learn who would want - and still wants - to destroy her.

A captivating novel that test the limits of otherness and questions what it means to be human, Fledgling is Octavia E. Butler's first book since Parable of the Talents won the coveted Nevula Award for the Best Novel in 1999.
reviewed Fledgling on + 14 more book reviews
I was not impressed. The back of this book tells me the author, Octavia Butler, has gained international prominence with powerful, richly textured stories that address universal issues of race, gender, politics, religion, and sexuality. So right after the third chapter she brings up the sexual issue of pedophilia. But it's ok because the child is a really old vampire... Still exceptional disgusting and a story killer. There's just no rationalization for reading detailed sex scenes with prepubescent girls.