Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

The first novel in the trilogy explores the human xenophobia and our unwillingness and rigidness to evolve, move on, and embrace inevitable changes. The novel itself is a metaphor and a bleak description of the humanity after the nuclear war. There are numerous references and allusions to the speculative nuclear conflict between the USA and the former USSR, and it is not accidental because the book was written during the final detrimental moments of the Cold War when the antagonistic feelings were quite rampant.

The author’s style is spuriously simple. This deceptive simplicity is there to state plain facts about our human nature. And these facts are bleak and hard to face: as species we are hierarchical and brutal with the desire to domineer, challenge each other, and win. The meek and the independent are just disposable by-products in this cutthroat human environment.

The biggest credit of this post-apocalyptic novel is the true ‘alienness’ of aliens: their bizarre and repulsively different appearance, their uncharted psyche, their biology, their ingrained life philosophy to revere any form of life, their eco-friendly habitats, and, last but not least, their perception of gender and sexual behavior.

It is truly a thought-provoking novel, an exploration of our own brutal selves with the bizarre and well-developed aliens as a foil. The book is definitely out-of-the-comfort zone and challenges a potential reader with new ideas and tests your ability to accept unpleasant and ugly facts.

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Filed under Book Review, Dystopian, Sci-Fi

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