author : octavia butler
pages : [paperback] 310
memorable quote : When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing.
Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman 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 stolen 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.
I feel like most people are over vampire novels but this is a truly unique one. That’s one of the few things I liked about Fledgling. The novel has its own take on vampire lore and Butler creates an entire society of unique creatures who apparently live without most of humanity recognizing their existence. We’re introduced to this community by an amnesiac who can’t remember what much less who she is. Though it was an interesting approach, I can’t say that I’ll be tempted to pick up this book again or recommend it to anyone.
The entire novel is very eerie and not because of the otherworldly creatures within it. The main character appears to be around eleven years old and yet she begins a relationship with a man in his thirties, within the first few chapters. My edition didn’t have the little fact that she’s actually much older than she appears, around fifty-something. But that doesn’t matter because she can’t remember all of those years, and the human she’s with should definitely have known there was something extremely wrong with that situation. While I’m fairly willing to assume that the relationship was more created for shock factor and to show another side of the vampire life, I definitely didn’t want or need any part of that.
Another aspect of the lore that I found incredibly creepy was how the humans became addicted to the vampires and wouldn’t be able to survive without them. I tried to imagine myself in that position and how stifling it would be. I wouldn’t be able to survive like that . . and yet these humans were acting like it was no big deal to abandon their jobs, homes, and families so they could stay with these vampires. No, thanks.
Overall, I think that the novel made a few interesting critiques on society. By looking into the vampire culture, it’s fairly easy to see what’s wrong with the world today and how society has changed and still needs to change. Yet I don’t feel like the plot was strong or interesting enough to pull me through the story. The ending was bland and left me wondering what might have happened next, if it had ended on a more interesting note.