The heroine of Fledgling by Octavia Butler is not human, at least not completely. Renee or Shori as she is known by the Ina (vampire) race is a hybrid— part human and part vampire. Before you jump to conclusions and start ranting or raving about the Twilight series, this is no teen romance book!
Shori appears to be a young, fragile and severely abused girl in her pre-teens with no memory of her past. However, her instincts make it blatantly clear, appearances don’t necessarily reflect the truth. This young girl’s enhanced senses, agility, speed, and ability to survive in the wilderness exceeds the most predatory animal. Pair that with an alarming hunger for flesh and blood and the need to keep reading increases. But what sets Shori apart from your typical fictitious throat sucker is the relationships she forges with humans and her unnerving sexual allure that no human child should be described with.
But Shori is not a child; she is in fact a 53 year old vampire with the pint sized body of a little girl. Though she is too young to mate with Ina males, she is not too young to have a harem of human symbiont lovers which makes for a disturbing and often uncomfortable read.
Still, as off-put as I am by her interactions with Wright, a young man whom she has imprinted with her venom, I keep turning the pages. I need to know where she came from, why she has no memory and how she has come to dwell in a shell of a body that does not reflect the intuitiveness of her age.
The author successfully forces the reader to consider their beliefs, question right and wrong and ponder the possibility of life forms superior to humans. Fledgling is a captivating book touching on many social issues. Butler explores the religious, racial, gender and age predispositions a society holds and twists the rules into an unfamiliar norm. She truly creates a world which stands outside that of the human race while paralleling its existence. I would recommend this book to anyone who is open to different, since this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read.
(The reviews this week are coming from members of the Virginia Beach Public Library's Reader's Advisory Team. This one is courtesy of Trinika. Enjoy!)