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Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1997
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It's several hundred years in the future. Human civilization has been all but destroyed through vaguely described but clearly self-inflicted wounds. Aliens have arrived with the goal of restoring human civilization as part of their drive to trade genetic and other information with other species. They've snatched a bunch of humans and effectively put them in storage until they can figure out what to do with them. Our main character, Lilith, is one of the first to be awakened as the aliens start to put their scheme into place. She must deal with the (initially terrifying) aliens at first, then, as she's selected as one of the leaders of the restoration, deal with her fellow revived humans as they are awakened as part of what's to be the first colony on the restored earth.
Though the initial conceit is remarkable, Butler focuses on Lilith's reactions to her situation, giving the story a remarkably personal, down-to-home feel despite the extraordinary occurrences. And there are no simple solutions. The aliens are doing good in restoring humanity but also have their own agenda, involving significant genetic manipulations of the restored humans. Lilith has misgivings about this which she much try to conceal while she awaits an opportunity to escape from their control. She must also deal with the similar concerns of her fellow humans without giving too much away.
All that being said, despite my admiration I somehow didn't find the book as gripping a read as one might think from the description. I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the books in the series, but without the sort of urgency a devoted reader comes to expect when he or she makes a new "find." Still, I am impressed by the book and perhaps the series will grow on me.
Ms Butler was dyslexic, above average in height, African American, and a genius. She lived as a hermit in the middle of a major city and created a body of work which stands with the very best. She won both Hugo and Nebula Awards several times and the MacArthur Foundation `Genius' Award in 1995. I think she is one of the few SciFi writers to have received this recognition.
I am posting this review on each of the Xenogenesis Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) sites as well as the volume where they are collected; `Lilith's Brood.' All are excellent and recommended.
In this series Ms Butler took on sexuality and the nature of `humanity' in a startling new way. She gradually takes the reader from the perspective of a `human,' specifically an Earthling who encounters an alien race to the perspective of the `alien,' specifically the descendent of interbreeding between humans and aliens who is now the `human' and sees Earthlings as the aliens.
Ms Butler skills are so great that this change in perspective goes so slowly that the reader is largely unaware until it has been accomplished. While some will dither about which of Ms Butler's novels are her `greatest,' few will argue that this series is superb. I have read nearly all of Ms Butler's works and enjoyed them all. I think she was one of the finest writers of speculative fiction in recent history and will miss her work.
The superiority of the aliens, in every way, the "bystanderish" attitude of the protagonist, even while watching rape of the person she cares for the most, and a sort of passive acceptance of the end of the human species, where those who object are also described as violent juvenile and backwards when dealing with their new situation. Pretty much every person not on board with what was going on, had no redeeming features when their characters were described, and that was very disturbing to me. The most violent of the humans, were those who most staunchly defended the survival of the species, In the ensuing fight I wanted them to win so badly, eventhough I knew they wouldnt. Usually my favorite authors are those who dont judge their characters, but I felt this author judged every character, and that I was in disagreement with her all the time - It bothered me a great deal, since while reading, I not only wanted to kill the aliens, but also severely beat some sense into the protagonist after she allowed "her" alien to rape the man she was with, eventhough he clearly said no to the act. - The alien replied with: your body says yes! while she was there and proceeded with the act. - To my knowledge, it is the fact that some rape victims feel their body betrays them, that they carry a sense of self loathing and deep shame far worse than any bruising they made have incurred. I was revolted.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This 3 book series is a fascinating take on aliens taking over the earth. If it offends you that humans are not the top of the food chain, then this series will offend you. Read morePublished 4 days ago by oldyoungster
Had problems in distinguishing characters in this book. Difficult to keep up with.Published 5 days ago by Beverly A. Warren
Dawn is the second book I have read by Octavia Butler and is the first book of the Xenogenesis series. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book is both strange and beautiful. I am looking forward to the rest of this series as well as her earlier booksPublished 10 days ago by Sharon J Cunningham
I love this book! Def keeps you wondering what's going to happen next. I never was into Science Fiction as much until now. I think I'll keep reading her other books.Published 10 days ago by brenda
While a slow start, the book eventually became really interesting, and was fairly original. I got into it and was enjoying it, however it suddenly crossed into territory that went... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Jessica
It's hard for me to rate this book, as I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand the concept was wonderfully original and effectively conveyed, on the other hand I found some... Read morePublished 14 days ago by D.Green
Butler tells a story that is as compelling as it is fantastic. This is truly original science fiction, and it's wonderful.Published 18 days ago by Dave Upton
I don't usually read this type of fiction, but found this to be a very interesting story. It was detailed and quite believable. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Amazon Customer