God is change. That is the central truth of the Earthseed movement, whose unlikely prophet is 18-year-old Lauren Olamina. The young woman's diary entries tell the story of her life amid a violent 21st-century hell of walled neighborhoods and drug-crazed pyromaniacs - and reveal her evolving Earthseed philosophy. Against a backdrop of horror emerges a message of hope: if we are willing to embrace divine change, we will survive to fulfill our destiny among the stars.
For her elegant, literate works of science fiction, Octavia E. Butler has been compared to Toni Morrison and Ursula K. LeGuin. Narrator Lynne Thigpen's melodious voice will hold you spellbound throughout this compelling parable of modern society.
©1993 Octavia E. Butler; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
I read science fiction and fantasy, but I also like literary fiction, the classics, the occasional mystery/thriller, and non-fiction.
Lauren Olamina, a minister's daughter, lives in a gated community that falls prey to the violence and anarchy that's been eating away at the edges of civilization for years. It's a brutal novel, as everyone Lauren loves dies, and the deaths are often gruesome. Lauren herself suffers from a condition called hyper-empathy, which causes her to feel what people around her feel... a very bad thing when people around her are being attacked, raped, and killed.
But Lauren is anything but a fragile helpless character. She carries the seeds of a new religion, and she's been planning for the collapse since she was a child. This novel has a lot in common with similarly-themed SF where the protagonist is a "chosen one" destined to lead his or her people out of chaos and barbarism, except that no one has "chosen" Lauren. She's decided for herself that this is something she has to do.
The story takes us on Lauren's journey up the coast of California, as its highways are flooded with refugees and its cities burn (thanks in large part to a drug which turns people into psychotic pyromaniacs). What is most interesting is not Lauren's "adventures" (which are mostly just a series of tense encounters fraught with dangers, as she constantly has to weigh the need for allies against the hazards of trusting unknown people on the road) but the brutal laying bare of certain truths beneath our capitalist society. Lauren's father foresaw the coming collapse and tried to keep his family from being lured into company towns that were economic traps, but even he didn't foresee how bad things would really become. Lauren discovers that slavery is real, and has been real and common, right here in the U.S., for quite some time.
It's a cynical and pessimistic view of the future, but it's not far from how many people live today. Ultimately, the book gives some hope for the future, but there is certainly going to be more blood and tears along the way.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
I can't decide if the author intends us to take seriously the religion developed by the main character. It's pretty lightweight stuff. But the tale of survival in 2025 California is entertaining. It's not America in the post-apocalypse, exactly, but in the middle of new Great Depression as it is becoming a corrupt violent dangerous capitalist country like Brazil or India.
Some of the dialogue is embarrassingly stilted--audio books bring that out, and the reader is very, very slow--I listened on my iPhone in 2x speed, and I do believe that helped the pace.
I greatly enjoyed this audio adaptation of Octavia Butlers book. Thigpen did a fine job reading paying sincere attention to Olaminas character. At one point the word 'yes' was all it took to move me. A fantastic listen and an intriguing work of literature, accessible to fans of future fantasy, amateur philosophers, survivalists and those who struggle with spirituality and its' emotional fight with science. Never too preachy, but instead encouraging, this book makes amends for much of the God heavy literature of this same type. The comparison of God to Entropy was notable and thought provoking. The conversations were believable and situations easily within mental grasp. Totally worthwhile food for thought and entertainment with some real literary meat. Moments of subtle cutting sexuality dug in and gave even greater depth to what could have been left simply to a story of disconnected pain and struggle to survive. This book all in all had me wishing everyone had a little "hyperempathy". A good read for sure.
Atmosphere and discription are strong this work. I was trying to imagine what would cause an increasing group of people to gravitate to the heroine. Admitedly, she is a strong, courageous, and perhaps charismatic leader, however, she had no new thoughts, nor even any inspiring old ones.
Ms Thigpen's voice and delivery is pleasant and entirely appropriate for the heroine.
Yes . I had read the print edition many years ago and thought it was very good. However hearing the story narrated made it seem very real.
When one of the main characters went to work, got afew blocks from home with friends and just disappeared.
She seemed to really be the character. She has great tonality.
Just another girl with too many books and not enough time for them all.
This is the second book I have read by Octavia Butler. And I have to say that this one was darker than Kindred. This book was dark yet gripping.
This book is was written in a journal style of a teenager named Lauren Olamina. The only daughter of a neighborhood preacher in 2024, California. The world has changed and violence, poverty, hunger is everywhere. Did I say violence? Wheww! I had to take a minute and stop here and there due to the graphic nature of the violence in this book. I think I am kinda ok with a bad guy (character) getting murdered, raped, or burned but when it happens to children in a book it seems to take my breath away. And not in a good way. The violence in 2024 does not discriminate at all. Young, old, men and woman are victims in this book.
But for some reason I was hooked to find out what happens to Lauren in this desperate landscape. Lauren's dream of creating an Earthseed community builds up as she travels from her home to a new Northern community. This is the backbone and the silver lining in the book that keeps the reader interested. I found myself worrying for Lauren and the people she meets along the way.
I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness of Octiavia Butler's writing. As I was listening to the book I could sense Octavia was giving us a glimpse of the future with a dose of the extreme terrible on top. What would happen if the $4.00 a gallon gas jumped to $40.00 a gallon? I for one would have to quite my job. Then what?
If you have a strong constitution and can handle violence in all forms then you might find this a great read.
Parable of the Sower is one the best audiobooks that I've listened to, for the first half.
The narrative of the slow unraveling of Lauren's community paired with her own transformation into adulthood is facinating and beautifully put together. Unfortunately this level of narrative doesn't carry into the second half of the book. I'll save the spoilers, and only say that the pace, character development, and cast of characters get extremely herky-jerky. This is not at all the fault of the producers of this audiobook, but a problematic feature of Butler's novel.
Lynne Thigpen is terrific as a narrator. She is very well cast for the part. I haven't heard any of her other performances, but this one is delivered with a smart understanding of the character and appealing aesthetic sensibility. Both the idealism of young Lauren, and her character's innate wisdom and strength come through clear as a bell.
It's a journey that you take along with the main character, as she grows and changes, struggles and learns, and as the people around her do the same. I love how poetic it is, how honest it is in its darkness without tending toward sensationalism. As a reader (especially with Lynne Thigpen's fantastic performance), you become as horrified and as cynical as the primary characters at times, but you (like they) can never fully let go of that hope that there must be something more to find, to build, at the end of all that hardship and suffering, a way to survive, even thrive. And even through all the challenges and the loss, there are still those moments - of laughter, of beauty, of communion ... of positive humanity, It is gorgeous, a masterfully written and authentic-to-humanity work and world.
It reminds me why I fell in love with Octavia Butler's writing in the first place.
I don't like the minimum word count of reviewing! I don't like it at all!
I think this is Butler's darkest work, but it does have some interesting things to say about human nature, the disintegration of society and religion and it's role in shaping communities.
Lauren Olamina is a Cassandra in her struggling walled neighborhood, trying to warn her friends and family of the disaster she sees looming, but no one will listen. When the worst comes to pass, she's cast out on the road, trying to find safety and build not only a new family, but a dream of a better future.
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