Lilith's Brood book cover

Lilith’s Brood (trilogy) by Octavia E. Butler

If you enjoy masterful world building, super weird looking (but generally nice) aliens, and/or contemplating genetic engineering, I highly recommend you read Lilith’s Brood.


Lilith’s Brood is in fact a trilogy (the individual books are “Dawn”, “Adulthood Rites”, and “Imago”) and in it, Octavia E. Butler builds a world with a mastery usually reserved for residents of Olympus.

I find some science fiction stories that aim to create a new universe lean too heavily on the details, and end up filling pages with descriptions of the bolts that hold the ship together that read as dry as instruction manuals. What I loved about this series is that Bulter found a balance that I really enjoyed: she shared enough specifics about the characters and setting that I could picture it easily and vividly, but not so much that I found myself flipping past a dozen pages in search of the next time someone does something.

Even though it was written almost two decades ago, and is set centuries in the future, these stories touch on a number of deeply timely themes such as genetic engineering, race, definitions of family and love, and personal identity. But Butler doesn’t hit you over the head with those themes. They’re ever-present without being preachy, meaning I could keep my focus squarely on the absorbing characters and story.

I gulped up all three of the books in this series in one go, and if there’s a piece of advice I have from that experience it’s — don’t do that! Take a little break between novels. A significant amount of time passes between each story, so I could have used some time myself to digest what I’d just read and get ready to speed forward into the next piece. The first book (“Dawn”) is still my favourite, but if you enjoy that one I’d say the entire trilogy is definitely worth a read.

Buy Lilith’s Brood on Amazon, Indiebound — or borrow it from you local library!
More about the author in this excellent NPR piece

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