Author: Octavia Butler

Title: Fledgling

Genre: African American Lit

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 317

Geographical Setting: New Orleans

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  A girl awakens, starving, injured, and near death with an overwhelming thirst for blood.  As she recovers, she becomes aware that she has lost her memory and doesn’t know who she is or where her family has gone.  She appears to be a nine year old girl but she begins to wonder if she is actually human.  After a few days of confusion, Shori is found by her father and learns she isn’t human, but Ina, an alien race that forms symbiotic relationships with humans.  As Shori learns about her people, she realizes that her family is under attack by unknown assailants.  Fleeing for her life, Shori must use her wits and her newfound abilities to combat those who seek to kill her and her allies.  Before long, it becomes clear that she is being targeted by members of her family who disapprove of the genetic experiments which created her.   Despite this book’s fantastical frame, it deals with very modern and realistic issues of race.  It is a story that entertains while provoking thoughts about racial equality.

Subject Headings:  Genetic research; Women vampires; Racism; Miscegenation; African-American vampires; Vampires; African-American girls; Amnesiacs; African-American women; Families of murder victims; Sexuality; Experiments; Horror stories

Appeal:  compelling, deliberate, engrossing, detailed, dramatic, evocative, intriguing, lifelike, realistic, vivid, complex, explicitly violent, layered, racy, strong language, detailed setting, dangerous, thoughtful

3 terms that best describe this book:  racy, thoughtful, dramatic

Similar Works/Authors:


3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Vampires: The Occult Truth by Konstantinos: This book examines vampire folklore and the modern vampire subculture.  This book provides an all inclusive look at vampire history, legend, and reality.

The Subject of Race in American Science Fiction by Sharon DeGraw:  This book examines the science fiction genre and its tradition of examining racial issues.  DeGraw argues that speculative fiction has a lot to add to the modern discussion of race and racism.

Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics, and the Very Perplexed:  This introductory text provides a summary of this complex and controversial science.  This is a great way for the curious reader of Fledgling to become more familiar with this increasingly important topic.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This speculative novel uses a dystopian future to examine issues of women’s rights and feminism.  Readers who appreciate Butler’s unique handling of sensitive topics will appreciate Atwood’s similar style.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin: In this book a space traveler must overcome societal prejudices and obstacles to complete his mission.  Le Guin’s exploration of the outsider will remind readers of Shori’s feelings of alienation in her society.

My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due:  If you enjoyed the horror elements of Fledgling than this novel of an African American family under attack by supernatural powers will thrill and satisfy.

Name:  Bethany Bates


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