From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The much-lauded Butler creates vampires in her 12th novel (her first in seven years) that have about as much to do with Bram Stoker's Dracula as HBO's Deadwood does with High Noon. They need human blood to survive, but they don't kill unless they have to, and (given several hundred years) they'll eventually die peacefully of old age. They are Ina, and they've coexisted with humans for millennia, imparting robust health and narcotic bliss with every bite to their devoted human blood donors, aka "symbionts." Shori is a 53-year-old Ina (a juvenile) who wakes up in a cave, amnesiac and seriously wounded. As is later revealed, her family and their symbionts were murdered because they genetically engineered a generation of part-Ina, part-human children. Shori was their most successful experiment: she can stay conscious during daylight hours, and her black skin helps protect her from the sun. The lone survivor, Shori must rely on a few friendly (and tasty) people to help her warn other Ina families and rediscover herself. Butler, keeping tension high, reveals the mysteries of the Ina universe bit by tantalizing bit. Just as the Ina's collective honor and dignity starts to get a little dull, a gang of bigoted, black sheep Ina rolls into town for a species-wide confab-cum-smackdown. In the feisty Shori, Butler has created a new vampire paradigm—one that's more prone to sci-fi social commentary than gothic romance—and given a tired genre a much-needed shot in the arm. (Oct.)
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rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book by Octavia Butler that I have read but it will not be the last.
The main character of the story is Shori, an adolescent vampire, who has had her family destroyed and was almost killed herself in the process. Due to the severity of the injuries she wakes up in a cave with amnesia. This book takes us on a journey with Shori to discover first what she is, then after she finds out she is Ina (vampire) we follow along as she learns what it is to be Ina and how this very ancient race of beings lives. The story also takes us through Shori's fight to stay alive as those who killed her family continue to attempt to destroy her.
The entire idea behind the Ina and their symbiont and the way they live their lives is a very interesting take on vampirism. We are introduced to whole new way of viewing vampires and the way that they live, feed, and breed. Very interesting idea!!
The one complaint about the book that I have is that Shori, who is an adolescent vampire at 53 years of age, is in a body that resembles that of a 10 year old human child. But while her appearance is that of a child, she is in no way portrayed as a child. While we are continually reminded that Shori is in fact an adolescent vampire, we also see her involved in what we would view as very adult behaviors. The relationship between Ina and their symbionts is very sexual and I found it disturbing that there are many intimate scenes where the author makes sure that we know that the body of Shori is that of a child.
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