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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1987 Octavia E. Butler (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Featured Article: Best Book Trilogies to Listen to Right Now


Here's why good things come in threes! Everyone knows the famous expression "Three's a crowd!"—but that sentiment doesn't ring true when it comes to books. But what are the best trilogies of all time? With thousands of amazing trilogies out there, it's hard to narrow it down. We’ve compiled some book trilogies that represent the best of the best—and don’t worry about spoilers; we’ve only described the first book of the series in each entry.

What listeners say about Dawn

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I couldn't tell if I loved it or hated it.

It was interesting. It is 'true' science fiction, not action in space, romance in space, drama in space, etc. ad nauseam.

The sci-fi components center primarily on biology and what it means to be human. But it also touches on human behavior, the limits of the mind, and physical limitations.

Additionally, the aliens seem truly alien, and their ship is even more imaginative, which I definitely appreciated. The other thing I really enjoyed was the constant edge that Butler keeps you on about the ethics of the Oankali. Are they good aliens or bad aliens? I still haven't decided. This is not an ugly invader alien shoot 'em up story. The conflict is very deep. I don't know if I want the humans to win, or if Earth would be better with the Oankali. At this point, it's interfering with my sleep.

178 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Good SF Tale, Rich in Subtext, Symbolism, Allegory

I once had a doctor check something out, turned out to be a spider bite, by (he said) the second most dangerous creature in New York City, the brown recluse spider. What's the most dangerous? I asked, knowing he would answer, "People". If you watch The Walking Dead, you know the gross deadly zombies are not the most dangerous or frightening denizens of that post-apocalyptic world -- the live humans are, by far.

In Dawn, even before the scary aliens arrive, humans have already wreaked so much havoc that billions are dead and the planet in uninhabitable, a ruined wasteland. When the kindly aliens try to help the few survivors reclaim a reborn Earth, they are met with recalcitrant, rebellious, and ultimately violent humans doing what humans to best, wreaking havoc.

But Dawn is so much deeper than that. Human nature is a major subject, examined in many ways. Yes, some are negative, but he whole package is too complex for simple statements -- humanity comes with its good, bad, and ugly, replete with warts and all, no matter how hard a super-advanced alien race tries to appeal to its better nature.

Such is Dawn. In the aftermath of a near-total worldwide apocalypse, aliens rescue the few remaining survivors and put them in suspended animation while they restore Earth. They revive Lilith Iyapo and task her, despite her reluctance, with leading the first group of humans to return to the newly reconstituted Earth. Early on, the story is about Lilith, her awakening, her initial exposure to the aliens, her way of dealing with a complex situation in which her saviors are also her captors.

The story then turns to the group under Lilith's care, as she awakens them one at a time or in small groups and tries to tell them about what is going on, hoping for cooperation as they work toward a peaceful and free return to Earth. Different people react in different ways -- and then the whole thing takes an unexpected turn when the aliens' true intentions are realized (no spoilers).

The plot and characters can easily be taken a face value -- it all works as straight ahead sci-fi, good but certainly not great classic sci-fi. What takes the whole enterprise to another level is the varied subtext which symbolizes contemporary issues of what we now call identity politics (a term not in wide use in 1987 when this book was published), raising issues of class, gender, sexual orientation, race, reproductive rights -- the most obvious symbols form an almost complete allegory about one particular issue that I will leave unnamed so as not to give anything away.

This is potent stuff, addictive and compelling listening, sometimes disturbing, always fascinating. Octavia Butler deserves all the praise she has gotten. I look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.l

28 people found this helpful

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Wow...

Where does Dawn rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Dawn ranks up into my top 5 books of all time. I read a lot of books, sci-fi, fantasy and horror. I have been through so many different authors that it's mind boggling. Not one can I say I am what you'd call a "fan." I would buy two maybe three books by a single author and lose interest. They eventually become unrelatable and repetitive to me. I am a very hard to please book fan... extremely hard to please. I have just discovered Octavia E. Butler last week. I have already read /listened to four of her books. For me, the way she writes is a way I can relate to. I see myself in her characters. I listen to her "Forwards" and "Afterwards" and I am right there with her. I've never had that with an author before. She is a real literary gem and more than deserving of every award she won. At least, in my opinion.

What other book might you compare Dawn to and why?

I can't really compare the story to another book. It's more like a very interesting "Twilight Zone" episode.

Have you listened to any of Aldrich Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is my first listen to Aldrich Barrett. She is Amazing. Her voice is soothing yet to the point and quietly intense when it needs to be. Her character voices are easily distinguishable. She has no overly cartoony voices. She doesn't try to have a "male" voice, yet it comes across clearly that she's speaking as a male character. No obnoxious lisp, gross popping saliva like sound some other readers have. I would Love to hear a book read by her coupled with Tim Curry.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The main characters revulsion and acceptance at the same time.

Any additional comments?

Give one of Octavia's books a try. I rarely rave about authors, you can see this from my other reviews. If you like stories that reply more on the actual story to be interesting, psychologically complex, then Octavia's writing is for you. If you Only need 6 hours of someone bashing in skulls to entertain you and scare you (Not that I am opposed to such books, they just aren't very.... scary, kind of boring and most try too hard to be shocking that they fail horribly), you will not have the intellect to understand the real horror she writes about.

152 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Intriguing, but ultimately unenjoyable.

I enjoyed the premise and the story, but the main character is so unlikable and really an unpleasant individual.

7 people found this helpful

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Strange, interesting, uncomfortable

This is an unusual story of a post-apocalyptic alien invasion. "Invasion" is not even really the right word, considering that mankind had all but destroyed itself already, and the alien Oankali merely rescued the survivors. "Rescued" them and put them in a sort of suspended hibernation aboard their giant world-like ship.

When Lilith Iyapo awakens, she is slowly made aware of her new situation. Not only is she one of the last survivors of the human race, but it's actually been hundreds of years since she "died" and she is now the unwilling "guest" of an alien race that has definite but unspoken plans for humanity.

Lilith behaves like a human being - imperfectly, sometimes irrationally. Slowly, the Oankali establish a relationship of sorts with her, characterized by mistrust on Lilith's part and inscrutable affection mixed with frustration and condescending from the Oankali. Lilith wants to meet other humans, but it never seems to go well. The Oankali are frustratingly vague, and while despite all of Lilith's paranoid imaginings, they never mistreat her or do anything to her at all, they also refuse most of her simplest requests, like paper to write on.

As she learns more about the Oankali and what they plan for her, she realizes that humans and Oankali are now inextricably bound together whether either race likes it or not.

Octavia Butler, the late, lamented genius of SF, wrote stories that were very much statements about race, sex, and power, and in plain sight, but like her prose, it was straightforward and unelaborate. A lot is left for the reader to infer, though none of it is very hidden. Butler writes the Oankali as very interesting aliens who are themselves imperfect - vastly more advanced and in most ways wiser than humans, but still prone to errors of judgment, as well as letting their feelings overcome their common sense. They are also weird and, as Lilith's reactions make clear, creepy, even moreso when it turns out that Oankali actually need humans for some sort of interspecies bonding future, which does in fact involve sexual contact, which is also described plainly if not graphically.

There is a lot in this first book of the Xenogenesis trilogy to find disturbing. Butler usually includes sex and power relationships in her books and they're always uncomfortable. There's also a lot to like, as the human-alien conflict rarely involves violence and never escalates to a military confrontation (humans don't even have a military any more), so you might think of it as a story akin to "The Body Snatchers" if the alien pod people were... well, individuals and not really malevolent and also not really trying to replace humanity, per se. So not much like the Body Snatchers at all, except that they elicit the same fears from humans and not completely without reason, because whatever their intentions and however sympathetic they may be, they are going to do what they're going to do regardless of how humans feel about it.

A very interesting novel, and while I found some parts a little predictable (like almost all the other humans inevitably proving violent and untrustworthy), and I might have enjoyed just a little more literary embellishment, I will probably continue the trilogy.

47 people found this helpful

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Conjugal alien encounters

Octavia E Butler's Dawn is the first book in her Xenogenesis series. The Earth has essentially destroyed itself through nuclear war. An alien species manages to save the few remaining humans and maintains them in a suspended animation while it restores the Earth itself. A young woman is selected to lead the reintroduction of humanity to Earth. This comes with a high cost. The alien race survives by co-mingling their genetic material with other races to form unique hybrids. This situation becomes untenable to most of the surviving humans and the woman must balance her need for companionship with irreversible loss of being strictly human.

Butler explores the loss of nearly everything, even down to the level of genetic heritage. The struggle for survival against the need for companionship is evident. At the same, the subtle, but substantial genetic enhancements serves to initiate her separation and eventual betrayal, by her fellow survivors. The fundamental question is how far will someone go to survive and survive as what?

The narration is well done, with reasonable character distinction. Pace is appropriately aligned with the plot making for a quick listen.

4 people found this helpful

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High solid! My first Butler book.

This was a great story. It reminded me of another recent read: The Book of Strange New Things. Hard to believe it predates it by nearly 30 years! I'll definitely finish the trilogy.

13 people found this helpful

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Starts well, gets irritating, best read in print

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The story is interesting, and I was hooked from the very start, but I will say as the story went on I found myself getting annoyed at the narrator's voice. Her performance is generally good, but the various character voices she does are extremely annoying, the alien voices in particular. The aliens are supposed to sound 'neutral' but she makes them (particularly one main alien character) whiny. Eventually this gets very cringeworthy to listen to, especially when the novel gets 'weirder' with alien and human relationships. I would definitely recommend reading this on paper, and would not recommend the audiobook.

The story itself is intriguing initially, although as the novel goes on, I found myself cringing more at the events, the aliens and their actions, and the way the plot was playing out. The human characters (besides Lillith, most of the time) are not particularly interesting either, although I feel that is partially the fault of the narrator (again, read this on print...it will make for a different experience I'm sure). It was at times also difficult to follow and understand, but I think that's part of it.

11 people found this helpful

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Trash

Half way through a mediocre story before it turned to shitty tentacle soft porn. Do not pay for this.

2 people found this helpful

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Felt like a novel for teen girls

I was disappointed in just about everything in this book. The plot was full of inconsistencies, the characters were unrealistic, and their emotions and reactions gave the book a feeling of over dramatic teen angst. The narrator contributed to the feeling of a teenaged emotional roller coaster. I give this book four "Blahs".

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • gary
  • 03-11-19

You'll root for the aliens

The story is quite good, the narration is calming but i have never met a bunch of more sullen whiny human being in my life. They are uniformly annoying alternating from petulant teenagers to irrational idiots. Give the book a go but i defy you not to root for our alien overlords within a couple of chapters .

15 people found this helpful

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  • Christian Langlois
  • 06-03-20

Absolutely brilliant!

I read the paperback in 1993 and then avidly went through all of butler's books, this trilogy being the best in my opinion. Dawn, the first in the series, the best of the three. She has a fantastic way of weaving biology, species, humanity, and feeling into a Sci-fi form like no other I've come across. A true master of her craft. This audio book lived up to my expectations, the narrator read it well. Enjoyed whilst working on my allotment, and became totally engrossed in both.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Strayficshion
  • 08-22-19

Best recommendation, I'm buying the whole trilogy

I think the best recommendation for this book is that I'm going to buy the next two in the trilogy. While it isn't for the literary purist, it is a very inventive plot-driven tale of the way two cultures - one rescued, the other the rescuer - finding out about each other and moving forward with the aim of re-populating the damaged Earth. The problem is one of the cultures is alien, the rescue feels a lot like capture, and the benign interference in human physiology is done without consent. The main character is a woman who discovers in herself more strengths than she knew she had, or maybe even wanted; she's flawed (I do wish there was another word I could use there), and I want to know what happens next. I'll add that the narrator does a marvellous job of rendering the various voices without 'acting' them and I'm glad to see she's the narrator for the next two books.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dean
  • 07-15-20

Good concept, ok narration, but too much Lilith.

By the time I got to the end I was so bored with Lilith that I contemplated not listening to the free chapters of book 2. But hoping we would move on to new characters I gave it a go, and as soon as Lilith started her interminable whining, I quit. I do not understand why this author is so highly regarded. Life is too short to spend in Lilith's company.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Heisenberg
  • 10-16-19

Couldn't stop listening.

This is the first Octavia Butler book I have listened to, and I found it totally compelling, with good characters and a convincing stoyline, set after a nuclear holocaust, when an alien species has intervened to save humanity. I have already downloaded the next book and cant wait to find out what happens next.

First class narration as well.

3 people found this helpful

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  • an italian in london
  • 08-25-15

masterpiece

If you could sum up Dawn in three words, what would they be?

For years I read Octavia E. Butlers books and then I stopped and now Audible is giving me a chance to re-read (or better: listen to) books I had already read decades ago but also to listen to books I did not know.
Xenogenesis is a group of 3 books that I had not read before and it's great.
This one in particular, the first one, it definitely the best because it introduces the Oankali and their culture.

What did you like best about this story?

Everything

Which character – as performed by Aldrich Barrett – was your favourite?

All of them

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Learn about others and you'll learn about yourself

Any additional comments?

thanks for producing these audiobooks!!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 02-19-18

Good but grating on the ears at times

The plot is good but all the human characters are angry and annoying which likely they would be in their situation but not one of them appears to accept it, even the main character who’s attitude is wholly aggressive and negative. I will likely progress with the 2nd book but I just hope that it steers the characters toward a more positive demeanour.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark Williamson
  • 01-27-21

Just not believable

I really could not get on with this at all. An alien race completely different from ours with a completely different biology and technology....fine! But so similar that it understands and uses irony and sarcasm. Emotions and reactions that are pretty much the same as humans. Seemed to me that the alien characters were just the literary equivalent of people dressed in alien suits. Just not believable for me. Sorry.

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  • L. Sheppard
  • 01-20-21

‘Out of this World’

1. If you could sum up ‘Dawn (Xenogenesis Series, Book 1)’ by Octavia E. Butler in 3 words, what would they be?
- Imaginative, visionary and conflicted.

2. How credible/believable did you find the narrator to be?
- I felt rather impartial towards Aldrich Barrett’s narration.

3. Any additional comments?
- The concept was highly original, ingenious and well executed. At times I found myself feeling very conflicted and ambivalent towards the intentions/actions of the Oankali. Overall it was a fabulous read.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michela
  • 10-11-20

Aliens willing to save humanity, at a cost

Great novel, exploring how humans may learn to interact with aliens (and viceversa) who are willing to help humanity thrive again after a catastrophe nearly destroyed earth, but the trade off seems to be a change in the definition of humanity itself. Brilliant story about the best and the worst in both humans and these aliens, and a solid story on how the protagonist manages to live in both worlds and to contribute to humanity's future. This audiobook also includes the beginning of the second novel in the series, quite intriguing.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-06-16

Humans are not your friend

This is a book that makes uncomfortable observations about humans in a setting where another author might have gotten away with lazily allowing the reader to root for humanity. It is toughly uncomfortable in a good way.

I found the voice used for the main character a little shouty: I could not always reconcile this with the patience and empathy expressed in her actions. However, I feel confident that this is a personal choice of the listener

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica A.
  • 01-16-21

Brilliant novel and really well read.

I listened to this novel as apart of a university unit, and the story is very interesting and engaging. I genuinely enjoyed listening! The narrator has a very relaxing voice and made it very easy to listen!

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  • Sam Jones
  • 06-27-20

Loved this!

I’m not normally a big sci fi person, and I worried that this book might be a bit out of my depth, but it was so accessible and such a seemingly simple story with some really complex themes hidden behind it.
The narrator did a wonderful job on the voices and helping to create a sense of “other.”