by Octavia Butler.
This could be your typical girl-wakes-up-hurt-with amnesia story, except for one significant difference: this girl is a vampire. Imagine waking up alone, injured, with strange cravings, and not only having no recollection of who you are or how you got there, but no idea what you are either. To have to have the concept of a vampire explained to you by a human. This is how Fledgling starts off.
Shori, the girl, looks like a kid of about 12, but is actually a 53-year-old vampire. After waking up alone in the forest, she has to find civilization and piece together her past. This is not easy given the fact that she has no real idea of what her vampire abilities are or their consequences. When she does finally stumble upon bits of her past, it only gets more complicated. How does she fit into vampire society? Why is she different from other vampires? What happened to her family and how did she end up in that cave? As answers become clearer, Shori has to carve a space for herself in this new society and ensure safety for herself and her human dependents.
This was the first book by Octavia Butler that I’ve read, and it was a good intro to her work. I liked her writing style and pace. The story had enough familiar elements that it wasn’t difficult to wrap my head around, but enough new things and surprises to keep it interesting and her own. She works a lot of nuance into her characters and world, particularly when it comes to race, science, humanity, and consenting relationships. Shori’s first relationship, in fact, made me a bit uncomfortable, but eventually it fit within the way the vampire society is built.
I was a bit disappointed in the ending. This is standalone book, so there are no sequels, and I felt the end happened a bit abruptly. I would’ve liked to see things progress beyond that point a little more. Especially as part of the danger Shori faced/faces didn’t really seem to be resolved. This was the last book that Butler published before she died, so maybe she had plans to revisit this world? I don’t know.
If you want to read a vampire story that’s a different take on the usual, give this one a try.