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Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

Adulthood Rites (1988)

by Octavia E. Butler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Xenogenesis (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I hadn’t expected to finish this book quite so early this evening, but the last 10% was a preview for the final book in the trilogy. I shouldn't have been surprised, because the table of contents did list it and there had also been a preview at the end of book one. I was just all wrapped up in the story and then suddenly I was at the end. In any case, I didn’t need the preview to decide I wanted to read the next book. I skipped the preview and downloaded the next book immediately!

I enjoyed this book just as much as the first book in the series. In some ways, I may have enjoyed it more. Adulthood Rites didn’t have the catchy “what’s going on?!” beginning that Dawn had, but it still held my attention and became increasingly interesting as the story progressed. In some ways I think this book had the meatier story out of the two, although I do think it had a little less moral ambiguity. We have a different main character in this book that I really liked, and his perspective was a very interesting one to read from.

I’m hesitant to provide any kind of a synopsis for this book, because there’s nothing I could say about it that wouldn’t spoil the story from the first book. For the sake of anybody who’s read the first book but hasn’t yet continued on with the series, I’ll just give a brief explanation within spoiler tags about where this second story starts out. This shouldn’t spoil anything in Adulthood Rites, but it would completely spoil Dawn:

In the beginning of this book, the Oankali and the humans have already settled on Earth. When the first book ended, we had just learned that Lilith was pregnant. When this book begins, Lilith has already given birth to several half-Oankali, half-human daughters. These children are referred to as “constructs”. Now Lilith has given birth to the first son born from a human woman, Akin. His half-Oankali nature means that he perceives his world very differently from humans so it was a really interesting perspective to read from. There are several familiar characters from the first book, but the story focuses primarily on Akin.

I’m looking forward the finishing up the third book, and I’m excited to have discovered a new-to-me author whose writing I enjoy so much! ( )
  YouKneeK | Mar 3, 2016 |
Adulthood Rites is book 2 of the Xenogenesis Trilogy (also known as Lilith's Brood). Book 1, Dawn, follows the story of Lilith, a human, who has been kept in some form of suspended animation for many years, then awakened by an alien race. Earth has been ravaged by years of war, and humanity is all but gone, save for the few that the alien race has rescued. It is their intention to restore humanity back to Earth as trading partners...the materials traded being of a genetic nature.

Dawn captivated me because of the anguish that Lilith underwent, as she struggled with the plans that the aliens have for the human race and their decision to make her the "leader" of the other humans being awakened. Her emotional turmoil was what stood out for me. But Adulthood Rites picks up the story with the birth of Lilith's son, Akin, and he is now the main character. Akin is half human, half alien. The early portion of the story follows his early life, the details of which I found dull. Just as with Dawn, though, the story is original and incredibly well written. Thankfully, Adulthood Rites, picks up as Akin and makes his decision as to what his life's work will be. Once he does this, I was immediately intrigued and already looking forward to book 3, Imago.

As always, Butler's writing is amazing. The story continued to be unique and emotional and thought-provoking. I am anxious to start Imago. ( )
  BlackAsh13 | Jan 30, 2016 |
I find it oddly difficult to review an Octavia Butler book without filling it to the brim with cringe inducing sentimentality and hyperbole but I'll be damned if she doesn't make me all pensive and a touch maudlin every time I read her books. I get this feeling that her kindness and compassion always seep through her books and it makes me feel a little wistful that she is no longer with us.

Adulthood Rites is the second volume of the Lilith's Brood trilogy. In a nutshell it is the story of the last humans living under the domination of seemingly benign aliens (“Oankali”) who saved our species from extinction on an almost destroyed Earth. The saved people are taken away to live on board their spaceships while the aliens clean up the Earth to make it habitable again. The first book [b:Dawn|60929|Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388290339s/60929.jpg|1008111] is about life on board the ship, Adulthood Rites is about mankind’s return to repopulate the Earth and the price we have to pay for the alien’s rescue.

This second volume shifts the focus of the story to the point of view of a new protagonist Akin who is the son of Lilith lyapo, the main character of [b:Dawn|60929|Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388290339s/60929.jpg|1008111], and two other alien parents. Interbreeding with the alien is the price we have to pay for being rescued from extinction. The mating system is pretty weird but don’t expect to read any scene of kinky threesome sexual congress. For the sci-fi enthusiasts there is plenty of mind blowing bio-technology with living ships, habitats food processing units and other bizarre devices. The Oankali aliens with their versatile tentacles, metamorphosis and third sexual gender are wondrously imagined. The post-apocalypse Earth being repopulated is also very vivid.

The main virtue of the book for me though is the ideas, themes or principles behind these wild inventions. Ms. Butler communicates her points through story telling without the narrative ever coming across like preaching. One of the major themes of this book is man’s “genetic contradiction” which is our tendency to combine intelligence with hierarchical behavior which eventually leads to blowing ourselves up. According to the aliens, left to our own devices Man will always self-destruct but we are too valuable as a species to allow becoming extinct so they have modified the humans to only procreate with at least one alien partner.

The story is full of dilemma and moral quandaries, everybody is right and wrong at same time. If I was reading this book as a teenager I would have been swept away by the sense of wonder and the world building. Reading it as an adult I find much more interesting issues to think about. Ms. Butler’s character development talent is second to none. They are so believable that sometimes the well-intentioned but obstinate characters actually make me angry. There are no mustache twirling villains or (God forbid) “Dark Lords” here but the ordinary people seem much more dangerous.

You will probably want to skip this paragraph because it will probably make you roll your eyes. I just want to say that I think Octavia Butler epitomizes the best of what a human being could aspire to be in term of decency, kindness and wisdom. I am not looking forward to reading all her books because then there won’t be any more. That said I am going to read the final book in this trilogy, [b:Imago|60934|Imago (Xenogenesis, #3)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389478182s/60934.jpg|6589483], immediately after this! ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Another thought-provoking novel by Octavia Butler. In general, it doesn't show humanity at its best, but it does show some of the good things as well. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child half human, half Oankali was fascinating, particularly considering the quick mental development of Akin. I thought the frustration of the humans, even the ones that have joined the Oankali was well described. It shows very clearly how non-human the Oankali are, how different their thinking is. And in a way, how arrogant they are to impose their world-view on others, even if they are saving the lives of those others. I was glad to hear Lilith's view on her first pregnancy and the frustration this caused her, because this was a bit glossed over in the first book. I'm definitely reading the third book! ( )
  zjakkelien | Aug 18, 2014 |
I wavered between three and four stars for this one. I eventually decided on four because despite my annoyance with the constant talk of mating and the sexual function of the Oankali, I deeply admire the very fluid and ingenious way that Butler introduces her central issues and messages.
Much like Dawn, the first book in this series, we have been presented with moral and ethical dilemmas that do not have easy answers.
The Oankali have saved Earth and the few remaining inhabitants from a man made disaster. We apparently went to war and destroyed not only ourselves but our planet. According to the Oankali we have two incompatible traits that are the cause of our near distinction: intelligence and our hierarchical nature. They have proposed a trade in which we can be saved and they can sample our unique genetics. They propose a blending of our races, but in doing so, humankind will cease to exist as we know it.
The Oankali have a complex mating/communication system that rankles against our very fixed understanding of gender and sexuality. The Oankali have male and female but also a third nongender and all three are needed for procreation as well as sexual pleasure. Human men have the most difficult time with this concept.
I won't drop any heavy spoilers but consider these points that dominate the plot:
1. Do the Oankali have the right to help us even if we don't want the help?
2. Should we accept said help even if it means the end of our race as we know it, by creating a biracial tri-gendered species that is no longer quite human?
3. What is humanity or what does it mean to be human?
4. Humankind in this fascinating tale has been given the opportunity to reestablish communities on Earth after the Oankali healed her. Humankind has proven to be violent, stubborn, hierarchical, possessive, unruly, and in many ways cruel. We are very inhumane. With that in mind, considering our self destructive natures, do we even deserve to be saved in this human form with the flaws identified as responsible for our undoing in tact?
5. The Oankali, being a tri-gendered race have a method of procreation that while it is definitely pleasure based relies as much on the mental as the physical and it blurs the lines of gender as well as considerations of incest. As you can imagine humans have a difficult time sorting this out.
While I'm not bothered by the blurring of sexuality in these books, I am a bit disturbed by the amount of time dedicated to the intricacies. The Oankali love new sensations, love receiving and giving pleasure, so even the most mundane exchanges of information of communications come off as sexual. Admittedly, I'm still having confusion about how all of this works, despite Butler's clear resonant prose. That said, there is so much discussion of finding a mate, the act of mating, the act of linking, arousal, sex and lovemaking , non-consensual encounters between human and Oankali, actual violent rape among the humans, puberty and metamorphosis that I felt absolutely drenched in sex throughout this entire book. To be clear, this isn't some raunchy blow by blow, but the imagery is certainly plain and often enough to rankle, and it felt like overload to me.
What I admire most is Butler's ability to write human being as they are. Her view of humanity is candid and rings true in every way. She doesn't spare our feelings with some pie in the sky picture of humanity. In this series, we have been laid bare on the page in all of our glory and flaws. Boy are we flawed. With that truth in mind the mood of this tale is fairly dark and while I actually prefer my stories that way, the sheer reality and honesty make this a particularly heavy read. I may take a break before finishing this trilogy. We'll see. ( )
  khaalidah | Mar 14, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barlowe, Wayne DouglasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underwood, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446603783, Paperback)

In this sequel to Dawn, Lilith Iyapo has given birth to what looks like a normal human boy named Akin. But Akin actually has five parents: a male and female human, a male and female Oankali, and a sexless Ooloi. The Oankali and Ooloi are part of an alien race that rescued humanity from a devastating nuclear war, but the price they exact is a high one--the aliens are compelled to genetically merge their species with other races, drastically altering both in the process. On a rehabilitated Earth, this "new" race is emerging through human/Oankali/Ooloi mating, but there are also "pure" humans who choose to resist the aliens and the salvation they offer. These resisters are sterilized by the Ooloi so that they cannot reproduce the genetic defect that drives humanity to destroy itself, but otherwise they are left alone (unless they become violent). When the resisters kidnap young Akin, the Oankali choose to leave the child with his captors, for he--the most "human" of the Oankali children--will decide whether the resisters should be given back their fertility and freedom, even though they will only destroy themselves again. This is the second volume in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series, a powerful tale of alien existence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:22 -0400)

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Told in the haunting voice of Lilith, the heroine of "Dawn", this book is the story of Lilith's only son, Akin. Though he resembles a normal human, Akin is the first "construct"--part man/part alien.

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