Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in a future Southern California, “Parable of the Sower” is a dystopian (apocalyptic) view of what happens when politics and the economy unravel in the United States. Violence and poverty are rampant and it’s not if, but when you’ll have to kill to survive. The story almost in media res; we don’t know what has caused the collapse of the nation.

There’s an impending crisis in the form of pyro, a drug that makes the users turned on to fire. The users of the drug say that watching a fire, and lighting a fire, feel better than sex. This is where the apocalyptic element comes in. The users of pyro (and the other names for the drug we come across) take the users by storm, cause them to shave and paint their heads, a makes them extremely violent and vicious. It’s sort of the equivalent to the virus that sometimes overwhelms the worlds of other apocalyptic books.

I liked the main character, Lauren, because she’s a fighter and a survivor. She determines that she’s going to do what it takes to survive. She shuns the denial of many in her community and identifies the skills she’ll need to survive outside of her community’s protective walls. This comes into play when she does find herself out in the wilds. Some of her fellow travelers at first think she’s cold and vicious, but she’s not. She’s still humane in her actions, but she’s also driven by the drive to survive and conquer any conflicts.

What confused me is that she relaxes her survival instinct towards the end of the book and she starts trusting people willy nilly and there’s no consequences. There’s no explanation for this sudden shift in her character and it really feels like poor writing. I’m ok with her being trusting, but I think there should’ve been an explanation for this new development.

I’m disappointed that I took this long to read this book, but it’s really a precursor to books such as “Station Eleven” and should be included in the canon of dystopic/apocalyptic literature.

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