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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Dawn (1987)

by Octavia E. Butler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Xenogenesis (1)

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Humanity has all but managed to wipe itself out and do almost irreparable damage to Earth in the process. Lilith is one of only a few people that have managed to survive. She is revived to find herself in a featureless cell where a disembodied voice asks her questions and is less than forthcoming with answers to any asked by Lilith. It is only when her saviours/captors seem to become satisfied with her response that Lilith finds out what her current situation entails. She has been chosen by a race of aliens (the Oankali) to help return mankind to a revived Earth but there will be a price to pay by way of a trade. Will the cost be too high to save what is left of humanity and is it even worth saving?

This is the first in the Xenogenesis trilogy and also the first of the author's work that I've read. I think I've been missing out. While this is in essence a first contact novel it explores much of the nature of humanity and often delves into its darker aspects. While this is not a difficult book to read it does touch upon some disturbing concerns and offers much to ponder so in this respect is extremely well written. The world-building and charecterisation of the main protagonists are also very well handled but there isn't too much depth to secondary characters but that doesn't detract much from the overall effect of the book. The series is off to a very good beginning and although I'm not jumping straight into the second book it won't be too long before I do. ( )
1 vote AHS-Wolfy | Feb 16, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book. It is a real page-turner. I found the situation to be surprising and unpredictable. The author is incredibly inventive. The book reminds me of classic sci-fi, fantastical and groundbreaking, and yet it also explores interesting issues regarding difference and sexuality. The writing itself is not particularly rich stylistically, but it serves its purpose. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. ( )
1 vote nngrey | Jan 13, 2017 |
Octavia Butler has not gotten the credit she deserves for making fantastic science fiction that stands out in it's enticing levels of humanity. She is a wonderful writer, and although Dawn is not my favorite of her books, it was still a very interesting novel that I read through without slowing down. I would recommend it to those who love science fiction. ( )
  ceciliachard | Oct 31, 2016 |
“You are horror and beauty in rare combination.” - the Oankali, regarding human beings. (p. 154)

Octavia Butler’s Dawn is so transportive and absorbing - I instantly felt a sense of kinship with Lilith, our main character, and experienced every tension and horror with her. There are so many levels to this slim paperback, that I know my review can’t do it justice.

The story begins with Lilith waking up in a strange place. She is a prisoner to unseen and unknown captors. We learn that in Lilith’s reality the Cold War between the United States and Russia progressed into a nuclear apocalypse, dooming humanity. Lilith survived due to the intercession of an alien race, called the Oankali - beings made of tentacles whose appearance is revolting to humans. These aliens possess amazing abilities to mutate genetic code and DNA, and will use Lilith to further their goal of creating human/oankali hybrids. Lilith is horrified by this, but she has no choice but to act cooperatively with the Oankali, as she is completely under their control, trapped on their living, organic spaceship.

Earth has been saved - sort of - it is a new world full of dangerous life forms and all trace of humanity has been wiped clean. If she wants to go back, Lilith and the other humans the Oankali have preserved, will need to learn how to survive in prehistory conditions. The Oankali seem to like Lilith and set her up to be their chosen leader of the human survivors. Of course, not all of the survivors feel the same way. Some distrust Lilith and feel she is working with the aliens, or may even be an alien herself. Lilith is placed in a tremendously difficult situation as she can not trust the Oankali saviours/captors or her fellow human beings.

The Oankali are given amazingly detailed descriptions and they are so different from us physically, mentally and culturally that it is really fascinating to read about. Butler succeeds in creating truly alien-feeling creatures and infusing each page with that uneasiness of being confronted with something completely unknown and unknowable. It really made me wonder how I would act if I were in Lilith’s position, and I found Lilith herself to be extremely realistic and relatable.

The themes of oppression, consent and more do not make for an “easy” read, and I find myself needing a break before reading the next in the trilogy. However, this is a masterfully written, stunning science fiction novel. I would recommend this, definitely. ( )
  catfantastic | Sep 3, 2016 |
Dawn is the second book I have read by Octavia Butler and is the first book of the Xenogenesis series. Years ago, I used to read SciFi regularly; but, for some reason had gotten away from it. Once I read Blood Child, not only did it reignite my love of this genre, it introduced me to Ms. Butler.

Dawn is brilliantly written. The story really explores some of the darkest things about humanity. A discussion of this book could take weeks because of the various topics it explores and those it only hints at. I loved that Ms. Butler choose the name of Lilith for the protagonist, such subtly and power in such a simple thing as a name. What little I know about Jewish myth is that Lilith was a female demon and she has appeared in ancient text as Adam’s wife.

In addition, the juxtaposition of Lilith and the Oankali was totally unexpected. I still have not decided if I like this or not. Yet, it did add to the complexity of the story and made it more compelling.

Whether you loved or hated it, this is a book you will not be able to put down. Just be prepared for something unexpected. ( )
1 vote purpledog | Jul 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Enric.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underwood, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446603775, Mass Market Paperback)

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:35 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An earth woman wakes up on a strange spaceship. Her benevolent captors--the Oankalit--are tentacled cosmic traders. In repayment for their kindness, they ask her help. They need human cooperation in the act of reproduction.

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