Octavia Butler - Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

I decided to start the challenge with this book as a bit of a cathartic joke, given the current situation, and after going through the novel, it was almost impossible not to project thoughts about a lot of what I'm seeing these days, with the effects of Coronavirus on everyday's lives. I'll give it another read in the future, at a better time, just to compare how this book will "feel" then; for the moment, I'll jot down some more general thoughts.


That said, it was a very good book in its own right: the story, in and of itself, is a pretty common distopic tale of a future where the world has gone horribly, from which the main character is trying to escape with others she found on the way. What makes or breaks stories like this is the worldbuilding, and Butler did an amazing job creating a world where this situation takes place. A lot of it is based on the Californian reality of the late 90's, and does sadly ring just as plausible and as ready to happen now as it did back then.


What I personally found most interesting, as a science fiction fan, is the way Butler manages to play around with some of the tropes of the post-apocaliptic/survivalist, and adapts them for the main character of this book, an 18 years old black girl, and how they would work in the world she's living in.


One of the other main points of the novel is how the main character is building up a religion and its whole set of beliefs on her own, to try to interpret and explain the world she's living in. Even for an agnostic like me, it was very interesting to read through her thought process, another example of how good the character writing is.


However, I also found a few issues with the last few chapters: they end in a satisfactory manner, wrapping up the story nicely on its own, but there's something a bit off as well, not as solid as the rest of the book. It might just be to set up for the follow up book, so I'll definitely check the sequel in the future and see if that's because of it, or if it was just me.


Still, this book is a solid recommendation, especially you like the genre and want to read a decidedly different take on it. Just be warned about the very brutal descriptions of violence and desolation, and that some might prefer reading it at a later date.