Adulthood Rites (Octavia E. Butler)Tuesday, 10. July 2012
Plot [with slight SPOILERS for Dawn]:
The Oankali/Human trade has gone off to a pretty good start. There are various settlements on Earth where Oankali and Humans live in unity, but also resister villages where the humans who don’t want to live and breed with the Oankali are allowed to live in relative freedom, even if forced sterility. One of the sons of Lilith and her Oankali mates is Akin. Akin looks astonishingly human but has the Oankali ability to remember everything. One day he is abducted by resisters which enables him to discover a very new perspective on things.
Adulthood Rites was a fascinating read thtat drew me right in. Though I still have qualms with some of the underlying assumptions Butler makes, I liked Akin and it was generally thought-provoking.
On various occasions – already also in Dawn – Butler states the Oankali theory that humans are bound to doom due to their combination of intelligence and hierarchical thinking. And I don’t really agree with that theory. On the one hand, I don’t believe that humanity is bound to self-destruct. That feels like a very Cold War attitude and rather outdated. On the other hand I don’t believe that hierarchy is genetically programmed into us. Though it is such a fundamental approach of how we organize ourselves that it pretty much could be.
But even if I accepted that humanity was drive by intelligence and hierarchy, I don’t see the inherent evil in that. Yes, there is a lot of potential for destruction and cruelty, but not exclusively.
In any case, whether you agree or not, Adulthood Rites is a book that makes you think – and that is wonderful.
Plus, Akin is a great character. I could relate to him much better than to Lilith in general. I was invested in his fate and wanted to know what happened to him and was hesitant to leave him in the end.
Summarising: I liked it.