” ‘Human beings fear difference,’ Lilith had told him. “Oankali crave difference. Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need them to give themselves definition and status. Oankali seek difference and collect it. They need it to keep themselves from stagnation and overspecialization. If you don’t understand this, you will. You’ll probably find both tendencies surfacing in your own behavior.” And she had put her hand on his hair. ‘When you feel the conflict, try to go the Oankali way. Embrace difference.’ “
Adulthood Rites is book number 2 in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy (review for book 1 is here). Hopefully you’ve read the first book, Dawn, and loved it and now you’re ready for the next book! If not, you really should go read Dawn. It’s good times.
Adulthood Rites picks up years, possibly decades, after the events of Dawn. The humans and Oankali are living on Earth – some humans live in groups with the Oankali, and give birth to half-human, half-Oankali children called constructs. Other humans have refused to live and breed with the Oankali, and live in towns or villages on their own. Humans are infertile unless they choose to breed with the Oankali, and the ones that choose to remain apart feel desperate and resentful. Lilith gives birth to Akin – the first male construct born to a human mother. He is somewhat of a test – more human than any of the other constructs, he will grow up to struggle to find a balance between his human and Oankali natures.
I love Octavia Butler. Akin was a great character – it was especially interesting seeing him exist as a baby, but being able to talk and comprehend almost like an adult. And as a relatively young kid, he has to tackle some major questions. Humanity destroyed the Earth once – do they deserve a second chance? Aside from watching Akin grow up and struggle with who he is, I just really enjoy the aliens that Butler has created here. They GROW space ships. And can screw around with things on a molecular level – heal people, cure diseases, grow exactly the right kind of nutritious food that they need, etc. And it just comes naturally to them! Being an Oankali would be awesome.
“Most Humans lose access to old memories as they acquire new ones. They know how to speak, for instance, but they don’t recall learning to speak. They keep what experience has taught them – usually – but lose the experience itself.”
“They could not exist without symbiotic relationships with other creatures. Yet such relationships frighten them.”
Anyways, this book ends on a pretty exciting note. I already have the third book, Imago, on my Oyster reading list, ready to start any day now.
Sarah Says: 4 stars