Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 1st edition, January 2, 2007
Paperback: 320 pages
(I read it on iBook)
Goodreads Summary: Fledgling, Octavia Butler's first novel in seven years, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl who's alarming unhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53 year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted--and still wants--to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling, is a captivating novel that "tests" the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human.
Without giving away major plot points, I think it's best I break down my thoughts on the book, as they are conflicting at times. I have a love/hate relationship with the story, so please allow me to explain and I will do my best to avoid revealing any spoilers; only those few things that made me dislike the story at times.
Beginning of the book: The first few chapters to this book are brilliant. Having not read the summary, I went into this story blind as a bat and this made reading the unknown... kinda exciting. First, I had no idea what was narrating the story, but I knew that it was hurt and hungry. Hooked..
My concern: This actually happens a few more chapters in and surprising early on, when a stranger pulls over on the side of the road because he is concerned he sees a young little girl wandering aimlessly in the rain. This young little girl is our main character. Wait! Your're probably wondering why I would reveal that? Well, in the summary you have already been told the main character is a 53 year old vampire, right? But, the key here and my major complaint with the entire story, is that she looks like a 10-12 year old girl. She's about 4'6", 86 lbs and boobless. Fine, I can deal with that... or can I? See below.
My WTF: Then the unthinkable happens. Sex. Yes, there are elements in the book, from the feeding to actual sex, that takes place. Had she not appeared as a young girl, I probably would not have had issues. Why did she have to look like a child? Let me just say this once, fucking gross. Moving on...
The plot development: The thing with this story is that Ms. Butler did an outstanding job of creating her own version of vampires. It's very well thought out and very creative. The first half of the book was very interesting (when things are still a mystery), minus the weird sexual happenings, but then the last half of the book felt more like a course in Ina culture. I understand the main character has amnesia and it is through her questioning, and lack of knowledge, does the author use this as a means to teach us about Ina', but I felt disconnected towards the end. Plus the ending had me scratching my head; it seemed a little anti-climatic.
Character development: Now, if I didn't like the fact that she appeared young, you would think that I would have disliked any further character development. Yes, and yes. I will maintain my position, that I didn't need to know how sexual a feeding can be, and I will maintain that I didn't like her looking like a child, while having sex with mature people but I also didn't know enough about the characters to care either. The was only really two strong relationships that I thought could have been further explored, but other than that, again I throw out the word disconnected.
My conclusion: In the end, Ms. Butler's work is highly coveted and what did not work for me, may be completely fine for you (honestly, I just had issues with the character's appearance; but it was disturbing enough to get in the way of actually enjoying the book). Believe it or not, I will continue to scout out other works by Ms. Butler (who passed away in 2006). I give this book three stars. It had potential, moments of brilliance, moments of lackluster, and in the end was comme ci, comme ca.
About the Author-Octavia E. 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.