Book review: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the great things about my occasional long travel days is the ability to read an entire novel that I had been meaning to get to FOREVER and finally had time and space to read on a trip for work.

Post-apocalyptic (in the sense of water scarcity and breakdown of society) near future SF set in the 2020s with a political structure that seems rather prescient when reading it this year. Parable of the Sower is one of those books that, upon first reading, seems “simple” in terms of prose style, plot, and storytelling choices. It is NOT simple–it is rendered deeply, fundamentally understandable to the reader and the characters experiencing it through great skill.

Right up until you finish it, and the different pieces fall into place, and what you have consumed is a deep meditation on the power — and necessity — of community for survival. Because community is what makes survival worthwhile. And Lauren’s journey from her first understanding of community (of origin) to her understanding of community (of choice) by the end of the novel is one that happens subtly, but to great effect, both for her and the reader.

Outstanding novel, and I’m kicking myself for not having read it before now.

View all my reviews

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About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a five time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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