Friday, October 6, 2017

HALLOWEEN COUNTDOWN! Mini College Review: Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Title: Fledgling
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Pub. Date: January 2nd 2007
Source: SIU Bookstore

Book Description:

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'd like to preface this review by saying that apparently I'm the one person who hasn't read Butler's book, Kindred so I have no prior experience with this author's writing.

Moving on, this is a book that I had to read in my vampire literature course in college. I had really hopes for it. Theoretically, it's everything I love. Vampires? Good. Science fiction? Good. These two things blended together in Fledgling ? Meh. I didn't feel it.

It's kind of dull. When I think of the word vampire, I think "intensity". Whether it's a horror plot, or a love plot, vampire novels tend to be heavy-handed more than lacking when it comes to plot and characters. I thought for sure this book would be intense, because twisting together science-fiction "how did I get like this" type plot lines with the vampire mythos sounds like a fantastic time. But instead the writing is dry, uninspired.

It's also creepy. Not in the vampiric respect so much as the main character, who has the personality/mind of an adult, is in the body of like a ten year old girl. Sex and romantic interest are involved, and it's creepy. I understand that the mind is not young, but when you're playing this book in the movie theater of your brain while you're reading, it's a little girl doing very not little things with a grown man. Which... I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, ew. On the other hand, vampirism is supposed to be kind of gross, and this is just sort of a twist on the same creepy factor vamps give off. Maybe it's a wash.

Despite my lack of enjoyment in this story, our class was able to cultivate a lot of good discussions from the issues presented in this writing, on topics like what it means to be submissive, sexism, racism, as well as a bunch of comparisons to the other vampire books we read in this course (which included Dracula and Carmilla). There's a lot of good themes that are in here... I just wish it was more interesting so that I wanted to dig deeper into the text.

It's an okay book. I'm glad it's just one and not a series. If you're looking for a tame read with creepy and science fiction undertones, go for it, but I want a little more *pop* in my vampire books.


  1. Well this sounds interesting, but I'm not quite sure how I feel about that older mind in a younger body thing... But I'm interested in forming my own opinion if I ever get the chance to read this myself.

    1. I don't remember a lot about it to be honest. I'd be willing to reread.