Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

A girl is born into a world of hurt and hunger. Shortly, she is strong enough to heal and hunt. But who is she, and where is she? She has no memory - and yet, she seems to know how to survive. She finds a savior in an adult man named Wright and together they attempt to puzzle together her story.

In this fantasy fiction novel, Shori is a creature similar to vampires yet wholly different. She is Ina, a race of blood-drinking creatures who form close-knit communities with their human "symbionts." Her amnesia is a result of a major head injury - Ina heal from injury quickly, but complex brain regeneration can't restore lost memories.

This is a slightly different kind of vampire story with a whole new cosmology, and Shori's total amnesia allows the author leeway to have characters do a lot of lecturing on history and tradition. But the book's not without suspense and action - somebody's out to get Shori, and her amnesia makes it impossible to know who to trust.

And the culture of Ina and of their symbiots leads to a different kind of vampire philosophy - where typically there is an underlying theme of existential angst about God, death, and immortality, in this story characters spend more time pondering connections, family, and kin.

I enjoyed the book, and found it refreshing to see a unique twist on the vampire legend.

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