Parable Of The Sower is the first half of Octavia Butler's Earthseed series, and introduces us to a near future dystopia in which society has all but disintegrated following an ecological collapse. While the novel centres itself on the Western seaboard of the USA, it is implied (though not specifically confirmed) that the effects of the collapse have been felt worldwide. The story is presented through the eyes of the novel's protagonist, Lauren Olamina, a teenage girl who initially lives with her father, step-mother and step-brothers in a walled community on the fringes of what's left of Los Angeles. Lauren also has a condition which Butler calls 'hyperempathy', an ability which causes her to feel the perceived pleasure and pain of those around her.
The story itself follows Lauren as she begins to develop her own religious system in the form of Earthseed, a philosophy that revolves around the idea that God is change, and as such isn't something to be worshipped but instead something to be recognised and respected.
The first half of the novel gives us a good look at Lauren's life at home, and does a good job of imparting her fear of the future, that the violence and chaos taking place outside the walls of her home community will one day come through the walls and tear down the fragile safety she has grown used to. Despite her attempts to warn others of the danger she perceives she is quietened by her father, a minister whose own fears are that if the community is forced to recognise the danger then they'll simply lose hope and ultimately give in to the ongoing degeneration around them. Eventually Lauren's fears become real, and the community is attacked and destroyed in a single night of violence and fire.
Fleeing from the destruction, and having lost everything she considered important, Lauren heads North, hoping that somewhere along the way she will find a safe haven from the violence. On the way she joins with a growing group of travellers, relying on numbers to provide security. Some of these begin to show an interest in her ideas regarding Earthseed, eventually leading to the group settling down on land owned by one of the pilgrims to form the first Earthseed community.
I found this to be a riveting read, despite it being a dark and somewhat depressing view of the future. Of the books I've read by Butler it's definitely my favourite so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the next one. I would certainly recommend it to others, and would suggest that if you've not read any Butler so far you make this the first one you pick up.
Parable of the Sower Paperback – 1 January 2000
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- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446675504
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446675505
- Product Dimensions : 13.08 x 3.18 x 20.32 cm
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Reprint Edition (1 January 2000)
- Reading level : 14 - 18 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 394,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"THERE ISN'T A PAGE IN THIS VIVID AND FRIGHTENING STORY THAT FAILS TO GRIP THE READER".
-- SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
From the Back Cover
When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny... and the birth of a new faith.
4.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from other countries
S. Naomi Scott
A Riveting Read.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 March 2015
9 people found this helpful
Great for preppersReviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 April 2018
Very U.S.A. The book is based on the premise that the world as we know it will inevitably end soon, and so we should all prepare, which means get lots of guns and ammo. If you're into that sort of thing then it's a jolly good romp. If you're not then it's really boring.
2 people found this helpful
This book is a thoughtful fiction with a interesting premise.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 April 2019
If you have a pageant for optimism, this is not the book for you. What Octavia E. Butler does achieve is a rich roster of well fleshed out characters in harrowing circumstances and stories that address issues of race, religion and sexuality, embedded within what essentially a 'survivalist' story with guns.
Four StarsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 December 2017
so far so good!
V N CADOGAN RAWLINSON
ExcellentReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 December 2014
One of the best post-apocalyptic books ever written. My copy is falling apart - this one was a gift for a friend.