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.
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!