Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler

All right, I’ll admit that if you show me a book in a post-apocalyptic setting, there’s a good chance it will end up on my “to be read” list. For whatever reason, stories of people dealing with a loss of all infrastructure (meaning a lack of government support and services), and having to move forward with their lives all alone really appeals to me.

To be clear, I’m not in anyway hoping I would have to live through such a scenario, nor my kids or their kids, but as far as fiction goes, it introduces both a world-wide view and often a more intimate portrait of the characters involved.

So let’s look at Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 novel Parable of the Sower. I came upon this title for one of my book clubs, and as the fellow who selected has previously chosen the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road (which I totally loved), and as I had some familiarity with the author (I had read and loved her 1980 novel Wild Seed), I was really looking forward to the read.

The book takes place just as society in the United States is crumbling - not through a bomb or disease, but instead through an ever-increasing wealth gap. The story focuses on a young woman named Lauren Olamina, and views the end of society through her eyes. The story begins with Lauren at a young age, living in a gated community in Southern California, but throughout the book follows her over the course of a number of years. As I get older, this style of narrative has quickly become one of my favourites, as it gives me the opportunity to watch characters change and grow over the course of their lives.

The novel is pretty great, and was followed in 1998 with Parable of the Talents, which, although I haven’t read yet, has definitely been added to my list of books to check out.

A fantastic read.

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