Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
This first Earthseed novel by ground-breaking writer Octavia E. Butler feel like a prophetic nod to our current world. If you were glued to The Handmaid's Tale, you'll love this beautiful new edition of a seminal American classic.
'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' - Gloria Steinem
'A masterpiece by a matchless artist. Butler is simply sublime'
'Reading these books will change your life'
'Emotionally and viscerally alive and challenging. I don't know how I missed it before now'
'A finely crafted work, rife with emotional power, horrifying in its believability, with a message that cannot be ignored'
From the back of the book:
We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.
America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to feel the pain of others as her own, records everything she sees of this broken world in her journal.
Then, one terrible night, everything alters beyond recognition, and Lauren must make her voice heard for the sake of those she loves.
Soon, her vision becomes reality and her dreams of a better way to live gain the power to change humanity forever.
All that you touch,
All that you Change,
My Review: (4 / 5 stars)
This was such an interesting story exploring a dystopian California where climate change has resulted in the complete breakdown of society. The narrator is a teenager who has "hyper empathy" causing her to feel any physical pain that she sees in others. Despite this perceived disability, she becomes a headstrong young woman who is determined to find a better life for herself.
It's hard to use the word "enjoy" when reading this book. The writing was imaginative and I was anxious to see where the story went; however, the horrors faced by the characters and presented a very scary backdrop, especially when laid alongside the current world's discussions around global warming, race relations and the class divide. It really is surprising that Butler wrote this book in the early 1990s given the prescient nature of the topics. This book isn't for the faint of heart, but it is a fascinating read about what we lose when society deteriorates and what parts of our humanity remain - with a touch of science fiction.
Follow-Up Read: Parable of the Talents (spoilers): (4 / 5 stars)
I was invested enough in the characters to read the next book in this trilogy called Parable of the Talents, which is even more harrowing and even more prescient. This book is a mix of diary entries from Olamina and also commentary from her daughter. It tells the story of Olamina and her band of followers settling down and trying to build a community against all odds.
Unforunately, they are destroyed by followers of the newly elected American President who (unbelievably, as this was written in the mid-1990s) uses the slogan "Make America Great Again." This was a heart-breaking tale and although the third book in the planned trilogy was never written before Butler passed away, for me, I felt I got the closure I needed.