Review: Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

A woman wakes up burned, shot, and with broken bones in a cave. She can’t remember who she is. She can’t remember how she got there. She can only remember the pain and some instinctual things like a need to eat. Slowly, she’s able to find food and put some things together. She finds the remains of a burned village. She hunts some deer. She wanders down a road and meets Wright and slowly starts to put the pieces together of who and what she is when she bites Wright and drinks his blood. She is part of a vampire race but she is special. She has been genetically engineered with a little human DNA so that she can be alert during the day and she has much more tolerance to the sun. She’s also dark-skinned, something that isn’t true about her people. Without knowing who she is or what happened to her (and the others? are the others like her?) she has to figure out what happened to her home. While trying to figure out what happened to her to make her have amnesia she meets her father who tells her that her name is Shori and explains why she is so special. Shori and her father begin the investigation into what happened to her and her family. Clearly there was a fire, but what caused it? Shori is put on the the path to solving the mystery of her destroyed community and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

This was a thrilling vampire novel, certainly the best one I’ve read since Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Since the main character has amnesia, we discover things about her species and her world as she does. You start to wonder pretty early on if what has happened to her is garden variety people hunting vampires, or garden variety people being racists asshats or something worse. When she is shocked and horrified by the behavior of humans and other vampires, we are, too. There is so much to say about this book but I don’t want to spoil anything (and I really want to do it justice if I’m going to analyze the themes of the book) so I won’t go into details. I will however say that this book could be a model for all of paranormal romance (even though it wasn’t a romance). I was so pleased with how it dealt with issues of consent that are so often missing from novels about vampires.

This book was so enjoyable and so wonderful and I can’t gush about it enough. Seriously. You should go read it. Now. You should read it now.

Fledgling

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