- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: January 24, 2014
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00I0WSPL6
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Dawn: Xenogenesis, Book 1 Audiobook – Unabridged
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Lilith never slides into self pity. Due to war, her husband and son are dead. She finds herself under the control of strange slimy creatures likened to slugs. After a deep sleep, she wakes up. She acquiesces to their learning process. Her old way of life must be forgotten. If Lilith is obedient to the wishes of the aliens, she will become the first leader on the new earth. Leadership on this future earth will give Lilith the ability to teach and train other captured earthlings.
However, change is never easy. Lilith will become the enemy of her own kind. Every day a choice must be made. Should she succumb to the thoughts of the rebellious earthlings or remain on course believing there is a chance to make something close to the planet where she once lived with family. If she kowtows to the rebellious earthlings, she will never see a revitalized Planet earth. Her decisions are difficult. I really felt sorry for Lilith when she had to fight off an overly sexed earthling. Starved for sexual intimacy, He falls upon Lilith like a giant rig out of control. He injures her body and mind. Still, Lilith does not give up.
Lilith is a Hebrew name. In Jewish Folklore, Lilith is thought of as the first wife of Adam. Octavia Butler's Lilith is a symbol of the Jewish Lilith. Butler's Lilith is the first human to experience the new order on earth. Like Adam/Eve, she is the first to experience a type of the Garden of Eden. This new earth, like the Garden of Eden, is a forest. A forest that needs to be tamed for the growth of food and also, for the growth of future families.
Science Fiction is entertaining and also meaningful literature. Science Fiction gives the reader the chance to think outside of the box about a new normal. Like Poetry, it jerks the mind. I am looking forward to traveling into another Science Fiction novel.
I should start off by saying that in my opinion, Butler's writing is somewhat sparse and to the point - not full of flowery descriptions or long, flowing narratives. I actually really appreciated that about this book - mainly because when Butler decides to use those descriptive techniques, she uses them with power. Those scenes will whack you over the head. My impression is that this was intentional on her part - she used her narrative prowess to pull you into scenes that were significant and meaningful. She's not self-indulgent in her writing.
I was immediately impressed with Lilith, the protagonist, from the start of the book. She certainly wasn't perfect, but she was real - human. As the story progressed, she struggled to find where she fit - did she fit anywhere? Ultimately, she was neither seen nor accepted as human, but she also wasn't alien. She was alone, and constantly faced the challenge of adjusting her expectations based on ever-changed situations. Her pessimism and optimism often worked against each other - it was difficult for her to find balance.
The biggest part of what made this book so powerful for me were the question it raised - none of which had clear answers:
- What is the line between coercion and consent?
- Is a "trade" really a trade is there's no choice involved?
- Does any character in the book ultimately have the freedom of choice in any regard, or is every interaction about manipulation?
- What does it mean to be human?
- Are humans really doomed to ultimately self-destruction without outside intervention?
- Are the aliens offering a type of facilitated evolution? Or is the change so drastic that it can't even be seen as facilitated evolution? (i.e. will humans still be human? Is Lilith still human?)
- Are the aliens good or bad? Does "good" or "bad" even exist?
Honestly, it was these question that made me most appreciate this book and Octavia Butler as a writer. She's not forcing her opinions on anyone. She leaves it up to the reader to decide what they thing the right answers are. It was these questions that kept my book club discussing this book and it's themes for over two hours. I honestly think that if some of us hadn't had to leave, we would have kept talking about it. If you're someone who likes a clear resolution or stories where there is a clear line between good versus evil, then this book isn't for you. This one clearly lives in the grey space - where it's more about questions than answers. Ms. Butler will definitely have a permanent space on my bookshelf, and I'm looking forward to reading the other two in this series (Lilith's Brood Trilogy).
Butler tells a superb story, but in doing so explores issues of gender and heirarchy, in her usual, powerfully insightful, way. By isolating this small group of humans, Butler allows us to see how relationships develop, power struggles begin, and perhaps the emergence of racism.
Powerful story with deep philosophical underpinnings. Can't wait for the next installment!