Parable of the Sower

I did not know what to expect when I began this book. As I moved through the first several chapters I thought I would essentially be reading a story that was exactly like Earth Abides in that it would simply be a slow, crawling storyline of people trying to survive an apocalyptic scenario. This proved to be dead wrong as the storyline really explodes with amazing detail and vivid storytelling. The book follows Lauren Olamina as she is forced to abandon her life in a semi-safe walled town in California as savages eventually come and rape, murder, and defile her friends and family. She must find her own path in a Road Warrior type world where all social structures and norms have disappeared. Octavia Butler weaves larger topics such as race relations, global warming, pollution, and most importantly, at least in my interpretation, religion in with a sometimes painfully realistic and explicit storyline. I found it quite interesting that the author, in many ways, portrays the protagonist as a religious figure. Beyond becoming a leader of a band of survivors and coming up with her own philosophy and way of seeing God/religion, she also personally feels the pain and pleasure as others around her do. I found this to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the story, as she is essentially one with the people around her. This is not a very good condition to have when the people around you experience nothing but pain and suffering, but because of this condition she cannot help but to impact change around her. This poetically goes right along with one of the main ideas of Earthseed, which is that God is change. This book is a disturbing yet accurate insight into the more animal and sadistic side of human nature. It shows just how fast humans can lose all sense of civility and compassion and return to a barbaric, medieval mind state. Butler’s insight into humanity’s evils holds nothing back. This book is slightly over the top and extreme, but the author raises many important questions that we could, at some point, have to face as a species.

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