Fledgling: A Novel

September 17, 2014, In: Book Reviews

Hello there! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started another semester at college. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to take a Women in Literature class! This week’s assignment for the class involves an online critique of Octavia E. Butler’s novel, Fledgling. I must admit, this book is not my typical read, however I’m finding a hard time putting it down!

In her last novel, Fledgling, Butler delves into the life of a young female vampire, who, suffering from several injuries, including a head trauma and amnesia, has no idea who or what she is. Butler leads us through a unique journey of discovery as this vampire, later referred to as both “Renee” and “Shori,” uncovers the mysteries of her family, way of life, and herself.

fledgling (This next part may spoil some of the novel for you!)

In the first chapter, Butler establishes an interesting parallel between Shori and the reader. It seems that just as the reader asks questions, Shori is asking them, herself. As she learns more in the continuing chapters in regards to her strength, abilities, species, and family destruction, so does the reader. This acts as an interesting approach to providing a character background, as well as a sort of sympathetic relationship on behalf of the reader towards Shori. In doing so, Butler allows a strong sense of engagement as the mystery is slowly revealed.

Moreover, in the first ten chapters, Butler touches on taboo subjects of racism, slavery and pedophilia. Butler presents pedophilia most interestingly, as Shori, only resembling an eleven-year old child, but later revealed as a fifty-three year-old vampire, partakes in relations with a twenty-three year-old man. The man, known as Wright, picks Shori up on the side of the road, cares for her, provides shelter and nourishment, and in return, Shori begins sexual relations with him. Pedophilia, as a taboo subject in our society, is viewed as wrong. However, is this situation wrong? Butler subtly raises this question as the story continues to reveal Shori’s great maturity and binding power over Wright.

I must admit, thus far, the novel seems to be a strange mash-up of Lolita, Dracula, and something like Animal Farm. It’s certainly a new approach to science fiction, more specifically literature involving vampires, and the mystery genre. It’s strange, enticing, and an easy read. I’m excited to finish the next half! Feel free to share what you think!

Salute, Cassie




    • Aimee
    • September 23, 2014

    Excellent points! You brought up a number of important aspects in Fledgling (including taboo aspects) and your connections to other texts outside of our course readings was really great.At times the reader does encounter a little bit of Lolita and Dracula (and when it all comes together, Animal Farm!)which is one of Butler’s (many)fancy writing tricks! She really is amazingly skilled! Your point that the novel is “certainly a new approach to science fiction, more specifically literature involving vampires, and the mystery genre,” is really important because this new approach challenges our expectations of a traditionally male-dominated genre and makes us think about serious (or taboo) issues in different ways as well.
    Nice work!
    PS Love the blog!!

    • Stephanie Massara
    • September 19, 2014

    I really like how you addressed the connection between the reader and Shori as she attempts to uncover her past with her audience. I made more a captivating and interesting opening to her book. It is also very interesting how you discuss the relationship between Shori and Wright, and asked the big question regarding if what they were doing was wrong. It seems incredibly disturbing, that Wright would even consider this, but Shori clearly has some sort of power over him that is not completely addressed. I liked how you compare this to Lolita, it was the first thing that I thought as well.

    • Courtney
    • September 19, 2014

    I covered the topic of pedophile in my blog post as well. When I first was reading it I was taken back by it and I will admit a little bit disturbed. I was interested to read your response about how it is a taboo today but does it come across that way in this book and this time. Shori is very mature for what they think her age is and as we find out she is actually in her fifties, it is not so shocking anymore. I am curious to read on and find out more and see how all of the details tie together.

    I also liked your comparison to other books! I had not thought about that!

    Great post!

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Denise + Sharleen

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