publisher Grand Central Publishing
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. (Goodreads)
In (Very) Short:
+ interesting new take on the vampire myth
+ the myth is wrapped in a mystery
+ the story gives us a flawed vampire and no supernatural perfect being
+ the story is a commentary on race and society
Although the cover does not reveal that this is another vampire book, it is well a book about vampires. Since a friend of mine is writing his dissertation about Octavia Butler’s work, I already knew quite a bit about this book before reading it. So, I decided to just give it a go and I really enjoyed it.
It took me a little to get into the story, but after about 50 pages in I was hooked. (It’s not my first Butler book that I read and it took me about the same amount to get into each of her stories. Interesting. Anyway, I digress.) A young girl (Shori) wakes up in a cave, close to death, and does not remember anything at all – not what happened to her, who she is, where she is, and what she is. After a recovery period she meets Wright and slowly starts to discover what and who she is and that someone really wants her dead.
The book is an interesting take on the vampire myths (and there are quite a few out there): for example that humans are bound to the vampires due to what is in their saliva. All vampires are completely incapacitated during the day, only Shori is of being awake during the day. (I am close to spoiler territory, so you have to discover the rest, when you read the book.)
The writing is fluent and the story surprisingly slow and fast-paced at the same time. I enjoyed the story and the mystery and I even got used to Shori though I had a few problems warming up to her in the beginning. Wright, however, was someone I did not warm up to at all. He was annoying and the relationship with Shori was just a little weird to me. The book is not only a great vampire story, but also a commentary on race and societal workings and gives us a vampire that is flawed and plagued with racism, ignorance, and bigotry.
All in all, a great take on the vampire myth wrapped in an interesting mystery with an interesting outlook on society.