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The Reading Jackalope

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler So after some time away, during which I devoured the Toby Daye books- love them all, I finally returned to Parable of the Sower. I needed that time away to put distance between myself and the horrors of that world, specifically the horrors of the night Lauren lost everything. I picked to book back up a couple of days ago and somewhere between putting it down and picking it back up again hope returned to the book. That was kind of awesome. I finished it yesterday. I think I would reread it, but I’d have to be in the right mindset. I would definitely recommend it.

I maintain that this book is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. Not in a way that activates my animal brain and drives me under my bedcovers hiding from monsters, but in a way that sinks down to my gut and sits there cold and hard. A fear that engages my conscious thought and is all the more effective for it. The society created by Butler is so, so believable and I would hate for it to come to pass.

What’s brilliant about the book though is the way it doesn’t let the main character dwell on the horrors and instead focuses on her way to survive. The way she starts to trust people again and build a community of people. I love the image at the end of the small group rebuilding their lives in the ashes of the old one. Indeed, I think that’s really the only way it could go. It would have been a cheat if the house had still been standing when the arrived, in order to build something new and good first you must destroy the old.

The sympathic abilities in the book are fascinating. And I’m glad that it turns out I do agree with Butler in their limitations. Because I maintain a society of sympathic individuals couldn’t survive long at all. Yes, human inflicted pain would be limited, but that’s not the only kind of suffering in the world. And sharing pain, even as you share pleasure, would severely limit the ability of humans to take care of each other- our great goodness. I did like the fact that you could control how much pain you shared with others, so long as you were the one feeling the original pain and were aware enough to do it. Lauren was able to hide her hurt from the others in her group with the same ability. I suppose the ability is a super strong ability to read body language- and that’s hinted at in the beginning of the book when Lauren told the tale of her brother faking a cut and causing her to bleed.

The religion in the book is fascinating. Foreign to me, but it does make a lot of sense. This idea that we are capable of shaping the world around us so long as we actively attempt to do so is not new exactly, but still so clearly presented it’s a little mind blowing.

A hard book to get through but ultimately worth it.