J. had a pile of books to give away and I was the first one at her door, hoping to beat the rush so I wouldn’t have to actually elbow her nieces out of the way. It was great! I came away with about fifteen books and the first one I read was Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling. I’ve read books by Butler before; the Xenogenesis trilogy pretty much blew my little mind, although I was less enthused about the Parable books. Fledgling, however, makes up for that.
This is kind of a vampire story, but it doesn’t rely on the same kind of suspension of disbelief upon which I am required to call in order to believe that a centuries-old being could fall in love with and be fascinated by a teenager. Nor was I required to slog through the romanticisation of abuse and controlling jealousy. Nor was there a simplistic divide between Good and Evil. All in all, there were a lot of things it wasn’t that already made it a better “vampire” book than many I’ve read.
What it did have is a new (to me, anyway) take on the vampire theme, with a young (in “vampire” terms) Black (in human terms) woman as the protagonist. Nice change, that! I really enjoyed the complexity of the social organisation of the “vampire” communities and households. The protagonist starts the story with traumatic amnesia which allows us to discover who she is and where she comes from along with her, instead of just being fed that information as background.
This book was published in 2005 and Butler died in 2006, so it may very well be her last book. (Was anything else published after Fledgling?) After reading the Parable books, I thought I was done with Butler, but Fledgling changed my mind. I look forward to reading her other work.
Fledgling. Octavia E. Butler. 2005. ISBN 978-0-446-69616-6.