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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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I decided not to wait too long before delving back into this series with this 2nd book of the trilogy. It picks things up a couple of decades or so after the conclusion of [Dawn]. The remnants of humanity have returned to Earth but the price of the trade with the Oankali was too much for some. Those that accept the shared Oankali/human cross-breeding program have started producing the next generation known as constructs. Those that don't are allowed to live in Resister villages but without the option to procreate. Lilith is once again a test subject as she is the first human woman to give birth to a male construct and this book is very much his story. Akin looks mostly human when he is born with only his tongue providing the sensory input of the Oankali and it's this that provides the greatest incentive to his kidnappers. He is taken to be sold to a resister village to offer at least the illusion of having a child to those unable to produce their own. He should fetch a high price. The cost to Akin will also be extraordinary and he cannot understand why his own family have chosen not to rescue him and left him in the care of some old familiar faces. Why has Akin been abandoned and what does fate have in store for him? This book follows Akin's story from his birth up until his metamorphosis into young adulthood and the choice for his life's work. As a product of two cultures he must come to terms with both sides of his heritage and if he can accomplish this then who knows what's in store for not just his own future but that of Oankali and humankind also.

Although this is a middle book from a trilogy there was no feeling that it was a bridging beween the start and end of a story that you sometimes get in such cases. I think the switching of primary character certainly helped with this and Akin's tale is certainly an interesting one. As with the previous volume there are a lot of important questions being asked throughout the story but the main theme for this time around is identity. Can a child born into two very different cultures be truly accepted by either. Would it be right to choose one over the other. If he can help bring a greater understanding between them then is it his duty to try? This is a book that expands on the Oankali vision hinted at in the first of the series providing a much greater insight into their culture but also looks at whether the human race is destined for extinction without some kind of intervention for the path it's taking, Are we destined to ultimately destroy ourselves? This is another enjoyable and thought provoking entry into the series and I'm looking forward to reaching its conclusion in the third book. ( )
1 vote AHS-Wolfy | Mar 20, 2017 |
This is the second book in this series. Very similar to the first, except the plotting seemed to wander a bit. A lot of world building. Again, the author explores the theme of difference. Not a lot of hard science, but some interesting ideas around genetics and heredity. Looking forward to the next installment. ( )
  nngrey | Jan 13, 2017 |
Octavia Butler continues to blow my mind with the masterfully written Xenogenesis trilogy. This is a really unique and fascinating take on the whole “alien invasion” idea. These aliens - the DNA-manipulating Oankali - haven’t really “invaded,” they saved the last survivors of humanity after a war we caused ourselves nearly wiped us all out. However, the aliens are now in control of humanity’s fate and some people deal with that better than others.

The Oankali view humanity as self-destructive and dangerous (true) and will not let us continue as we are, because they feel it is factual built into our genetic coding that we will destroy ourselves again. So, humans who want to reproduce must do so with Oankali help, so there are two human parents and three Oankali and their DNA is all mixed together to create a new race.

In this book, humanity has been returned to Earth and it is now a jungle. There are some few remnants of the previous world as we knew it, but mostly humanity is forced to start again. Some humans rebel against the Oankali and live in separate “resister" communities, where they grow more bitter and desperate and angry as the years go by and they continue to remain sterile.

Akin is born into this divided world. He is the son of Lilith Iyapo, the main character from the first book. A “construct," Akin a hybrid who looks human, except for his tongue, which is an Oankali sensory tentacle. Other constructs look less human - usually having a couple of tentacles. Upon adulthood all constructs undergo metamorphosis and look even more alien and less human afterwards.

The novel begins with Akin being just a newborn baby. However, being part-Oankali he is remarkably cogent and articulate, even as a tiny baby. This is frustrating for him because he finds himself in situations where he wants to act as an adult would, but his body is still the weak body of an infant. He is kidnapped from Lilith's village by a band of marauders who steal and sell the most human looking construct children to sell to the sterile resister towns.

Through his forced contact with them, Akin actually comes to sympathize with the human resisters. When he is older and returns home, even as he begins learning more about his Oankali heritage, he makes it his mission to find a way to help the human separatists survive. However, will they still listen to him after his metamorphosis occurs and he no longer looks like them?

This series is really amazing. Butler masterfully crafts an alien race that is so extreme in its differences from humanity. The Oankali are fascinating, but it really makes you wonder how you would react in the situations the human characters find themselves in with these aliens.

It also makes you wonder whether humanity is worth saving, or if the Oankali are right in letting us die off/breed out of existence.

Akin offers a unique perspective, which is really interesting to read about. The world building is fleshed out and detailed and real. I really love this book. Highly recommended. ( )
  catfantastic | Oct 15, 2016 |
This continuation of the series held up to every standard and expectation I had. I'm thrilled to continue with the final chapter of humanity's story! ( )
  Literature_Owl | May 26, 2016 |
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! ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Mar 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
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)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

» see all 2 descriptions

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