*audio book purchased from audible.com and review copy of e-book received from netgalley and the publisher*
Rating: 4.5 stars/Grade A
I really don’t know where to start with this review. Wild Seed is unlike anything I have ever read before but yet it was still very accessible and easy to read. I would say this book is a combination of urban fantasy, horror, historical fiction and fantasy. Butler addresses slavery, gender roles, racial issues, sexuality, and class issues so subtlety you can miss the commentary if you want to and she does this all through the lens of a fantasy world involving supernatural beings that are seemingly immortal and have various abilities from shape shifting, body snatching, mind reading, and telekinesis. Personally, I don’t want to miss the commentary and I enjoy the unique view. I tend to like my urban fantasy and fantasy stories with a slice of heaviness on the side and Octavia Butler seems to be able to deliver that every time.
This is the third book by Octavia Butler that I have read. I have come to expect that in reading her books I will have an escape from reality and a complete immersion into the characters that she writes. She writes characters that seem to breathe and live somewhere off the pages of her books, they are real and three dimensional. But such tangible characters come with a price, there is pain and anguish in her books and as a reader, I felt these emotions. Wild Seed was no exception. The characters witness some painful and sad events. This is not urban fantasy lite.
Wild Seed is a sweeping historical story that begins in Africa with ancient powerful beings. These beings get caught up in the slave trade and arrive in the now United States. These characters seem to have limitless power. One being prefers to use her power morally and compassionately. Another being, no longer sees himself as human and is not governed by any morality. And of course they clash, both romantically and otherwise. The book is surprisingly sexual in parts and raises some really interesting questions. A shapeshifter that can take on any shape — animal and human — and gender — how do you feel about it taking on the opposite gender and engaging in sexual relationships? What about while it is in animal form? The sex scenes are not explicit but they are referenced. Octavia Butler is not shy about putting her toe across the border of most people’s comfort zones.
I plan to continue on with the series and am excited that Butler’s books are being published in e-book and audio book format.
What Octavia Butler is your favorite? Do you prefer urban fantasy lite — or fantasy with a message?
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