Author: Octavia E. Butler
Released: September 2nd, 2005
Before now, I’ve only read one other novel by Octavia Butler, and that was only recently. Still, I just knew that I had to read her take on vampires. Seriously, I had such high hopes, even before reading the description of this tale.
Fledgling begins with our girl waking up. She has no memories, she’s hurting, and she’s hungry. Slowly, her functions and her memories return. As does her understanding. Of the world, and of herself. She’s a vampire, and she knows what that means. What she has to do to survive.
This is Octavia Butler’s take on vampirism, blending common tropes and elements known to vampire lore together with her own unique take and twists on the matter. Despite the vampire elements, this is wholly a science fiction story, as further reading will reveal.
“When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing.”
I’ll confess, Fledgling left me stumped. Mostly on how to review and rate it. On the one hand, I love that it surprised me. It has been a hot minute since I read a vampire novel that was more firmly set in science fiction rather than fantasy.
On the other hand, this novel made me fairly uncomfortable at times. And not for the reasons you might be assuming. I know that vampires can come in all ages and sizes – and that the way they look is not automatically representative of how old they actually are.
Still, it was off-putting to read about a young-bodied (read: child) vampire with an old soul and history. It’s a theme I try to avoid when diving into vampire books, so this is not a dig aimed at Octavia Butler. I want to be clear on that count.
“Or it’s happening because Shori is black, and racists—probably Ina racists—don’t like the idea that a good part of the answer to your daytime problems is melanin.”
Thankfully, Butler’s writing is still really amazing and impressive. Once again she managed to raise so many other elements and questions to the surface, and that made this read worth it. Even if I didn’t enjoy the parts I already mentioned above.
Fledgling is probably not a vampire story for everyone. Still, it did make for an interesting and emotional read. Just not for the reasons that I had anticipated.