Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Parable of the Talents

Octavia Butler
Completed 5/2/2018, Reviewed 5/2/2018
5 stars

This book was outstanding.  It’s the continuation of the story from Parable of the Sower and it does not fail.  It’s still depressing as hell but has a somewhat happy ending.  What amazed me the most was how relevant the story is to today’s times.  If Butler were alive today, I bet she would have amazed herself at how accurate a future she predicted.  Sure, some of the extreme plot points haven’t happened, yet, but it’s a scary enough parallel to what’s happening today to make one think twice about the consequences of their political actions.

The book continues the tale of Lauren, now called by her last name, Olamina, and the community she created in hills of California.  The community is called Acorn, and they members follow a religion she created calls Earthseed.  Its basic premise is that God is Change.  They live more or less happily in the Pox, the post-apocalyptic US.  Then, a populist Christian president is elected on the platform to Make America Great Again.  It incites extremist Christians to start going after the poor, the drug addicts, the thieves, the prostitutes, and the “heathens” and “rehabilitate” them.  They invade Acorn and turn it into a concentration camp, enslaving and killing the members of Earthseed.  Olamina and her followers try to survive this deplorable situation.

To add a twist to the narration, Butler introduces text by Olamina’s daughter, Larkin.  The format of the book is commentary by Larkin followed by Olamina’s journals.  In addition, there are a few other texts by Olamina’s husband and one of her brothers.  This mixes it up enough to give you different perspectives of the events that happen to Acorn.  It added some hope to the otherwise dark situation Olamina was in. 

The plot is stupendous.  It turns the belief that it could never happen here on its head.  When we look around at what’s happening today in the US, seeing the rise of white supremacists and the president calling them good people, it makes you wonder just how far we are from what Butler describes.  Me being the general pessimist, I see us heading in this direction now if things don’t change. 

If there’s one fault of the book, I’d say it’s that there are too many other characters, that is, the people of Acorn.  I kept most of them pretty clear in my head with the first book, but I could only keep a few really clear this time.  But I guess that’s what happens when the narrator is first person and the community has over sixty members.  I’m just glad I read it rather quickly after the first book. 

This book is not for the faint of heart.  It’s a brutal future that Butler depicts and at times the only hope is that you know that Larkin survives.  Still I think it’s a great book that’s really well written.  I give it five out of five stars because I had a lump in my throat through the majority of the middle and again at the end. 

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