Octavia E. Butler is an amazing writer. It doesn't matter whether or not I like the story she has written, when I'm reading it I'm not reading a book, I'm there in her world, totally transported. Imago is no exception. This is the third and final book in the Xenogenesis series (a.k.a. Lilith's Brood). There are a lot of very complicated relationships in this which are explained fully in previous books. I have to admit that I got a bit bogged down in them as they were re-explained at the beginning of this one. This is told from the perspective of Lilith's youngest offspring who is now 29 years old. Lilith, a human, gave birth to it, but she is only one of its five parents (note the previously mentioned complicated relationships). What was great about this story was the way it took things that humans do that you and I would find perfectly understandable and then took a step back to look at them from an alien perspective. Suddenly these rational human reactions seem completely irrational. After seeing through alien eyes for a while I came to totally agree with the alien perspective. It wasn't until several hours after I finished the book that I realized that if I were put in the position of these humans, I would probably have acted similarly--I would be a "resister" too! Totally awesome writing with a very imaginative story. My biggest complaint about this book is that it's too short!
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?