March 17th, 2011


Book Review: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

One-line summary: In pre-apocalypse America, a teenage girl with a prodigious intellect and disabling empathy flees the destruction of her community, and founds a new religion destined to take humanity to the stars.

Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993, 299 pages

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny... and the birth of a new faith.

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Verdict: This is an exciting, complex, thoughtful, tense, dark but hopeful story that succeeds on every level. Most dystopian fiction you're reading today is weak, dumb tea, especially if it comes from the YA shelf. I'm all for reading stories just because they make you think and make you uncomfortable, and Parable of the Sower does that, but it's also just plain good storytelling.