Dawn by Octavia E. Butler is the first of Butler’s books I’ve ever picked up, and the first in her Xenogenesis series, and I’m extremely excited to go on and read more! The novel follows Lilith as she wakes up thousands of years after a great war on Earth, having been abducted by aliens who evolve by melding genes with other species, and they have come to breed with the last few humans.
The plot was thrilling, though not quite as thrilling as the aliens themselves. It was refreshing to read about aliens that were in no way humanoid, and were in fact alien. Over the years I think that I have accepted aliens as humans painted green or yellow or pink or some other strange colour, but not really thought about the possibilities of how they could differ from humans. Butler taught me to think otherwise, and it was refreshing.
What was once refreshing, but has now become all too real, was Butler’s terrifying look at the failings of the human race, mostly in regards to mob mentality. For years I’ve been strangely terrified, almost embarrassed, of how aliens would view humanity, and Butler seemed to explain that fear perfectly. Though I did enjoy it, I think I might have to look into some more utopias to read very soon.
The one thing that threw me was Butler’s writing style. My studies in creative writing always had one solid rule I tried to stick to which was ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ (excellent advice for any budding writer right there). But I felt as though Butler did a lot more telling. Some of it was done through the lense of explaining the events to an alien who might not understand, but the reader was most definitely not the alien and the reader got a little bored with reading what started to sound a bit like a documentary style report. As an avid reader of multiple series though I understand that often the first one pales in comparison to a fully built world, and I still look forward to reading the next one!