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Hey!! It's CanCon weekend! That feels significant (and not just because I didn't finish my reading in time shooooooooosh). Kind of a sad reminder that we're all still living in this very strange world where friends only exist online and not in real life.
Hmm. Now I've just made myself a little sad. But, hey, you know what'll cheer me up? Reviewing some books! What's on the list for this week? Parable of the Sower? Err........
#81: THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia E. Butler
So this was maybe an odd book to read at the time I was reading it.
A novel about societal collapse related to an increase in climate change and related environmental events? What? No, that's not anxiety-provoking or timely at all!!!
Despite this story being pretty dark at times (seriously, CW for violence, sexual assault, and death - you know, the usual apocalyptic things) and despite it being very focused on religion, which is usually not my thing, I actually quite enjoyed this?
Parable of the Sower follows Lauren, a girl trying to make her way in a world that's falling apart, getting more and more violent by the day as people scramble for resources. Meanwhile, she's discovering a new religion called "Earthseed", which focuses on the nature of change and has a goal of getting humankind to space.
I think I liked this so well due to a combination of the fact that Butler's writing is very good and engaging, and her characters are very well-formed very quickly. The story started out a little slowly, but once it got to the actual meat, I was enjoying what I was reading. I found myself easily getting attached to the characters (risky in an apocalyptic story).
Also, I think what really worked for me was that, despite the fact that the world is literally burning and the characters are always in mortal peril, that horrific things are happening to and around them, there's still a strong kernel of hope.
The main character Lauren is very driven by her goal of forming an Earthseed community and, importantly, it's a community built on taking care of each other. Over and over again, she and her comrades choose to help the people around them, when it would be easier to abandon them to their fate. Even though the novel ends on a distinctly bittersweet note, I didn't mind too much, because I wanted these characters to succeed, and I believed in their ability to do so.
I know there's a sequel, but I'm almost a little hesitant to read it. I liked where this book ended really well, and I feel fairly certain that a sequel would only double down on the tragedy of life in this wasteland. I probably will at some point pick it up, but for now, I'd like to leave these characters in their own little safe haven.
#82: RAYBEARER by Jordan Ifueko
Oh, this book really doesn't disappoint!
I've been seeing good reviews about Raybearer for weeks (months?) and friends, they were not lying! This book really is that good!
It follows Tarisai, the daughter of the mysterious Lady, sent on a dangerous and awful mission. Interesting magic system, court intrigue, and big found family feels await her as she struggles to balance her duty with her new feelings of belonging and acceptance.
This book feels like a warm hug. I love the characters, I love the soft tragedy that unfolds as you understand more of the motivations, and I love the use of irony. I was entirely on board with this journey, and I'm so very excited to read the sequel (oops, is that a spoiler?).
Also, it goes without saying that it's deeply awesome to see fantasy based in West African mythos. There's also quiet but definitely present queer representation, including ace representation, which is great.
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
#83: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
#84: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires