Monday, 7 June 2010

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

The last book in the NTTBG was Fledgling by the late Octavia Butler. I was looking forward to this one firstly because it was a vampire book (I cannot resist these) and secondly because it was written by a female science fiction writer. Unfortunately I was very disappointed by this book.

It seems a writer cannot write a vampire book these days without twisting the genre in someway in order to make it their own. What did Butler do? Well the Vampires in her book do not live forever, just a very long time. They do need human blood to survive but only a small amount at a time meaning that they don’t kill their victims and taking blood is extremely pleasurable for the human. In order to survive a vampire will have around 6-8 humans who live with them and act as personal blood banks each taking it in turns to give them blood/sex whatever. The bond between the vampire and these humans is apparently so strong that if one of the humans dies the vampire is practically crippled by the pain this brings.

The book follows ‘Shori’ a female vampire who has been genetically modified to make her black and therefore more comfortable in sunlight. She wakes in a forest suffering from amnesia and has to firstly find out who and what she is, how to survive, where to find others like her and who wants to kill her.

I had quite a few problems with this book. Firstly although Shori is technically 53 years old, she only looks about 12 so when she has sex with her human companion it’s a bit disturbing to read. It’s never made clear if the human in question wants to have sex with her because they share some kind of blood bond or if he finds young girls sexually attractive as they go at it quite soon after meeting.

Most of the book is spent wittering on needlessly about the complicated lifestyle of Butler’s vampires while ‘Shori’ finds out about her vampire nature and the ways of her human companions. It got boring and very very silly. Also the fact that Shori is black and is genetically engineered are themes that in my opinion were not fully explored, I feel that Butler really missed a good opportunity here. I did however finish this book because the writing itself was not bad and I think I will try this author again as she seems to be a very popular writer.

I just think I miss the good old days of Anne Rice, when Vampires were non sexual creatures, could not go out in daylight, slept in coffins and who saw most humans as food. Authors seem to want to humanise vampires but in order to do so they have to either skirt around the issue of their diet or change it completely. I realise this could become a whole other post but I miss the old ‘monsters’ which is really what they are.

Verdict 2/5

Posted by Jess


  1. I'm with you about Anne Rice-- I loved her books and found her writing very evocative-- I always felt like I was in which ever time period she wrote about. Read them all many times but been several yrs-- might be time for a reread.

    Did you ever read her novels of Jesus's youth? I read and liked the first one but didn't get around to reading more.

    Back to the vampires-- To me Rice is the ultimate so I made a personal decision not to pursue the current crop of vampire series--- but I did read all the twilights at the urging of a librarian friend-- predictable and too much silly/melodramatic teen angst but a fun read nonetheless. So I've been tempted to check out some of the others-- haven't decided which to settle on-- maybe not one of the teen ones-- or maybe I'd be better off rereading Rice.


  2. ohman, the premise of this book is extremely disturbing.
    I don't know if I could enjoy it just for the fact that she looks 12 and there are sex scenes.

  3. Totally agreed. Anne Rice wrote the best vampire fiction and since then, other authors have butchered the myth.

    That said, I probably will keep reading vampire fiction as I do love the myth.. and I will continue to be disappointed.

    Give me Armand, Louis and Lestat anyday over Edward or Bill. Heck, even Angel annoyed me.

  4. Lesa - no I have to admit I tended to just stick to her vampire stuff, I didnt even read any of the witch books.

    The one modern vampire book I did really love was let the right one in. Also saw the film the other day and that was also good.

    brizmus - it was werid to read, I know shes meant to be 53 but its still werid.

    Rachel - oh Ive read twilight and the sookie stackhouse and some others, I just cant resist them LOL Armand, Louis and Lestat were proper vampire weren't they?

  5. Did I just read that correctly, "genetically modified to make her black and therefore more comfortable in sunlight." Bloody hell, what will they come up with next?!?
    I just finished 'The Nymphos of Rocky Flats' and the vampires in that wear copious amounts of sunblock so they can tolerate the sun.
    It's all getting a tad bit out of hand!

  6. I would never have guessed this was a vampire story by looking at the cover.

    The messing around of the vampire legend is also one of Husbnd dearest's pet hates. I don't mind so much but vampires not living forever? That's taking things too far.

  7. I would never have thought the book was about vampires if I saw it in a store...and while I understand that authors want to make this genre their own, vampires are immortal. Period.

  8. Marc - oh believe me the genetically modified thing was not the sillest part of it. I think the female vampires having a 'scent' which male vampires find hard to resist so they have to live separately got that honor.

    Petty - apparantly the author wrote this as 'a lark', in the book vampires live for around 500 years and their humans live for 200 (something to do with the vampire spit)

    Zara - I think the rules are so well bent by now that soon I'm sure they will be normal people with special powers.

  9. Although I too was underwhelmed by this one, I do love vampire books, and next on my list is the Radleys by Matt Haig - a vampire family trying to live a normal life - one daughter wants to become a vegetarian. Apparently it's hilarious - can't wait.