Dystopia? Religious questioning? POC? Heck yeah!

Octavia Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower is fantastically written and fits very well into the currently popular string of novels and movies centered on older teenagers dealing with societal conflicts. It’s a quick and easy read due to the never-ending action and dramatic twists, making it quite difficult to put down as I experienced. Butler’s writing style easily paints visuals for the reader to follow and remain interested. There were multiple times when I was almost appalled by the graphic nature of her depictions particularly during violent interactions, but I was quickly reminded of the context and gravity of the protagonist’s situation.

The time frame of the novel is not too far off from our own, only about thirty years after it was written in 1993, which is kind of frightening but also reassuring because there’s no way the global economic status could change so drastically in such short notice (right?). Although Lauren’s ways of living are severely different than today’s standards, the mentions of well-known cities and highway routes in California brings the reader back to the realization that these events are happening right here in America. I couldn’t see a clear connection between this novel and global warming until I read the interview at the end of the novel, but there was clearly much religious discussion which I enjoyed reading. Lauren provides some different perspectives of living through her creation of Earthseed, and although I’m a practicing Christian, I saw many of her points as easily applicable to life.

Another large point to mention is the numerous characters of color and of mixed races; Lauren herself is African-American, and there are actually only a handful of white characters depicted in the novel. Race is mentioned many times through the book, specifically when discussing society’s opposition to interracial relationships. This is insanely important in our current society where most main characters are presumably white and the only people of color are supporting or background characters. People of color need to see themselves being represented in novels with strong willed and determined characters, and Parable of the Sower does a wonderful job depicting just this.

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