50 Books By Authors of Color: Book 2
Title: Parable of the Talents
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Parable of the Talents is the follow-up novel to Butler’s 1993 novel Parable of the Sower. It continues the story of Lauren Olamina-Bankole and the people of Acorn. I listed to Parable of the Sower on audiobook several months ago, but I think I should give a brief overview of what happens.
It’s the future (not so distant for people living in 2011) and the world is in chaos. Lots of people are addicted to a drug known as Pyro, which makes the users obsessed with watching (and therefore setting) fires. This drug has a bad side affect, children of the abusers are often born with hyper-empathy syndrome, which makes them physically and mentally susceptible to the pain other people are in. Lauren Olamina is one sufferer but she lives in relative safety in her walled in neighborhood. While there as a young teenager Olamina begins writing a book truths for a Religion she believes called Earthseed.
After Olamina’s home is destroyed she and the other surviving people from her neighborhood travel north, picking up stragglers as Olamina preaches her new religion as they move to settle a community they call Acorn.
Parable of the Talents takes up where Parable of the Sower has left off. The community that Olamina has created is doing well but is still subject to attacks by Pyro addicts and other unsavory people. Government is progressing and a man named Jarret is elected because of his belonging to a religion known as Christian Americans, after his election he vows to rid the country of “satanist cults”, which he believes Earthseed is one of. Jarret is an extreme Christian Fundamentalist, so much so that his followers secretly start reeducation camps. After a horrible bombing incident, Acorn becomes one of those communities and the people that live there are either killed or enslaved.
Lauren Olamina’s story is mixed together with the story of her daughter, Larkin, who is taken away when Acorn is attacked by the Christian Americans and adopted to a Christian American couple. The tale of their enslavement is by no means easy to read but I think Butler covers the topic very well. The entire book is dark and gritty, but that’s the world that Butler has created for her characters.
In Parable of the Talents Octavia E. Butler digs the knife in deep. Butler creates a future that is rough but the kindness and love of humanity still exists even though they are surrounded by difficulty and suffering. This is however, not a happy book, people die, and not just people that are mentioned once or twice. This a future where the losses are heavy and close.
The book is slow to start, but not only does the plot become intense, the prose is almost lyrical in nature and sure to hook someone who likes ugly things being described in beautiful ways.
Overall Rating: 5/5