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Xenogenesis #2

Adulthood Rites

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The futures of both mankind and an alien species rest in the hands of one hybrid son in the award-winning science fiction author’s masterful sequel to Dawn.

Nuclear war had nearly destroyed mankind when the Oankali came to the rescue, saving humanity—but at a price. The Oankali survive by mixing their DNA with that of other species, and now on Earth they have permitted no child to be born without an Oankali parent. The first true hybrid is a boy named Akin—son of Lilith Iyapo— and to the naked eye he looks human, for now. He is born with extraordinary sensory powers, understanding speech at birth, speaking in sentences at two months old, and soon developing the ability to see at the molecular level. More powerful than any human or Oankali, he will be the architect of both races’ intergalactic future. But before he can carry this new species into the stars, Akin must decide which unlucky souls will stay behind.

At once a coming-of-age story, science fiction adventure, and philosophical exploration, Butler’s ambitious and breathtaking novel ultimately raises the question of what it means to be human.

277 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1988

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About the author

Octavia E. Butler

111 books16.5k followers
Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

After her father died, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Octavia found an outlet at the library reading fantasy, and in writing. She began writing science fiction as a teenager. She attended community college during the Black Power movement, and while participating in a local writer's workshop was encouraged to attend the Clarion Workshop, which focused on science fiction.

She soon sold her first stories and by the late 1970s had become sufficiently successful as an author that she was able to pursue writing full-time. Her books and short stories drew the favorable attention of the public and awards judges. She also taught writer's workshops, and eventually relocated to Washington state. Butler died of a stroke at the age of 58. Her papers are held in the research collection of the Huntington Library.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,566 reviews
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews806 followers
October 6, 2015
I find it oddly difficult to review an Octavia Butler book without filling it to the brim with cringe inducing sentimentality and hyperbole but I'll be damned if she doesn't make me all pensive and a touch maudlin every time I read her books. I get this feeling that her kindness and compassion always seep through her books and it makes me feel a little wistful that she is no longer with us.

Adulthood Rites is the second volume of the Lilith's Brood trilogy. In a nutshell it is the story of the last humans living under the domination of seemingly benign aliens (“Oankali”) who saved our species from extinction on an almost destroyed Earth. The saved people are taken away to live on board their spaceships while the aliens clean up the Earth to make it habitable again. The first book Dawn is about life on board the ship, Adulthood Rites is about mankind’s return to repopulate the Earth and the price we have to pay for the alien’s rescue.

This second volume shifts the focus of the story to the point of view of a new protagonist Akin who is the son of Lilith lyapo, the main character of Dawn, and two other alien parents. Interbreeding with the alien is the price we have to pay for being rescued from extinction. The mating system is pretty weird but don’t expect to read any scene of kinky threesome sexual congress. For the sci-fi enthusiasts there is plenty of mind blowing bio-technology with living ships, habitats food processing units and other bizarre devices. The Oankali aliens with their versatile tentacles, metamorphosis and third sexual gender are wondrously imagined. The post-apocalypse Earth being repopulated is also very vivid.

The main virtue of the book for me though is the ideas, themes or principles behind these wild inventions. Ms. Butler communicates her points through story telling without the narrative ever coming across like preaching. One of the major themes of this book is man’s “genetic contradiction” which is our tendency to combine intelligence with hierarchical behavior which eventually leads to blowing ourselves up. According to the aliens, left to our own devices Man will always self-destruct but we are too valuable as a species to allow becoming extinct so they have modified the humans to only procreate with at least one alien partner.

The story is full of dilemma and moral quandaries, everybody is right and wrong at same time. If I was reading this book as a teenager I would have been swept away by the sense of wonder and the world building. Reading it as an adult I find much more interesting issues to think about. Ms. Butler’s character development talent is second to none. They are so believable that sometimes the well-intentioned but obstinate characters actually make me angry. There are no mustache twirling villains or (God forbid) “Dark Lords” here but the ordinary people seem much more dangerous.

You will probably want to skip this paragraph because it will probably make you roll your eyes. I just want to say that I think Octavia Butler epitomizes the best of what a human being could aspire to be in term of decency, kindness and wisdom. I am not looking forward to reading all her books because then there won’t be any more. That said I am going to read the final book in this trilogy, Imago, immediately after this!
Profile Image for Tim Null.
133 reviews78 followers
January 3, 2023
I'm not a science fiction fanatic. Sure, I saw the Trouble with Tribbles episode of Star Trek on 'live' television, but that was only possible because my Dad had to work that night. Normally, he took the Star Trek night off so he could watch Jack Benny on a different channel. (I preferred Star Trek, of course, but Jack Benny was okay, and who doesn't love Rochester?) Sure, I took my wife to the first Star Wars movie but that was only because Virginia was having a record heat wave and my pregnant wife didn't want to sit around in a hot apartment. (Did I forget to mention our air conditioner was broken?)

It's true I religiously watched Star Trek The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even Enterprise, but I've never been to a cosplay event and I can't speak Klingon to save my soul. I even slept through Star Wars 3, 4, 5, and 6. (Or was it 1, 2, 3, and 6?)

I mention all this because the nerdy rating for Octavia Butler’s Adulthood Rites should be upped to a 5. (The normal folks rating remains at 4.) I'll let you judge whether you're nerdy or normal. If you're nerdy, this book includes three chapters just for you. Enjoy!

Since I'm not a science fiction nut case, I lightly read those three particular chapters with no measurable loss of enjoyment.

Lilith and the gang return from Dawn, but Lilith's first son, Akin, is the main character in Adulthood Rites. He's unique and personable. You'll enjoy his company.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews928 followers
March 18, 2020
“Human purpose isn't what you say it is or what I say it is. It's what your biology says it is--what your genes say it is.”

Image result for butler adulthood rites

Octavia Butler's Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2) continues where Dawn leaves off; however, the perspective is shifted from Lilith to her son Akin (who has been created with four other parents). When Akin is kidnapped, the focus of the story is on him growing up among humans who have resisted the Oankali's help. Can Akin convince them the time has come to accept help from the Oankali or will they continue to self-destruct in their separate communities?

There are a lot of interesting things going on in Adulthood Rites. Butler tackles people's fear of differences (even if those differences are only superficial), hierarchical structures (often associated with a toxic masculinity) and an inability to think in non-binary terms. Can humans overcome what Oankali see as their limitations and embrace the future? Adulthood Rites is a compelling sequel to Dawn that I really enjoyed but, in my mind, didn't answer enough questions. Leaving some questions unanswered is okay, of course, but Adulthood Rites didn't quite leave me satisfied. Guess I will have to read the next one! 4.25 stars
Profile Image for Stuart.
722 reviews269 followers
March 27, 2016
Adulthood Rites: A human-Oankali child is torn between two species
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Adulthood Rites (1988) is the second book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy. It continues the story of Lilith in Dawn (1987), a human woman revived by the alien Oankali centuries after humanity has mostly destroyed itself with nuclear weapons. The Oankali offered humanity a second chance, but at a price — to merge its genes with the Oankali, who are ‘gene traders’ driven to continuously seek new species in the galaxy to combine their DNA with, transforming both sides in the process.

10 years after the events of Dawn, Lilith has given birth to a son named Akin, the first male ‘construct’ to be born to a human woman. There are number of distinct groups in this newly reborn Earth – Oankali who do not merge with humans and remain on their spaceship above the earth, Oankali sent down to the Earth to mate with humans in ‘trade villages,’ ‘construct’ children that share both human and Oankali genes, and human resisters who refuse to accept the Oankali offer and resent both Oankali and ‘traitor’ humans alike.

Akin is unique in that until now the Oankali have not allowed human males to be born to other humans, in order to avoid what they perceive as the aggressive nature of males. Of all the ‘constructs’ born to date, he is the most human. Nevertheless, his Oankali DNA imparts special traits like rapid mental development, healing ability, and sensory organs that allow him to communicate with both humans and Oankali at a more instinctual level. This is the normal mode of exchange for the Oankali, who have only adopted speech to be more accessible to humans. Akin is intended by the Oankali to be a bridge to understanding humans better and furthering the integration process.

However, when Akin is kidnapped by resisters, who have been made sterile by the Oankali and therefore yearn for the children they cannot have, he gets first-hand exposure to the human side that is opposed to the Oankalis’ plan. He learns all the faults of humanity, particularly what the Oankali call the ‘human contradiction,’ namely the inherent conflict between intelligence and hierarchical behavior, which inevitably (in the Oankalis’ minds) leads to conflict, aggression, suppression, and eventually self-destruction. This is why the Oankali do not believe that humans can be allowed to revive their society without any modification of this ‘flaw.’

Much of Adulthood Rites details just how ALIEN the Oankali really are, especially their genderless adolescence and metamorphosis into either male, female or Ooloi, the third gender that forms a triumvirate and serves as the gene manipulator to create children, a more hands-on approach than the random DNA recombination of humans. They communicate constantly by means of sensory tentacles, exchanging feelings, sensations, and thoughts between family units and larger groupings.

Although they supposedly shun ‘hierarchical’ behavior, there is a clear hierarchy among the Oankali. The events that surround Akin, his Oankali siblings, the Ooloi in his ‘family’, and the humans in his life are complicated. More importantly, the biology and sexual practices of the Oankali are bizarre, unsettling, and downright creepy. Once again, Butler never shies away from making the reader uncomfortable by testing our comfort zones. I’m quite pleased by this — why read science fiction if not to be exposed to the truly alien, while also using this as a mirror to better understanding ourselves?

Just as in Dawn, humanity seems primitive, distrusting, and brutish in comparison to the Oankali. Again and again, resisters prove that they will quickly resort to violence when faced with difficult situations, attacking both Oankali and human collaborators. In return, the Oankali will subdue them but try to avoid killing other than as a last resort. After reading Dawn, my initial impression was that Butler really had a dim view of humanity and that the far more advanced and evolved Oankali were a benevolent race intent on fixing the flaws of humanity out of both biological imperative and a desire to improve their lot.

However, based on a discussion on my review of Dawn and after reading excellent reviews of the series by Tor.com’s Erika Nelson, I reassessed what was going on in Butler’s story because I know full well that she never writes a story with a simple dichotomy of good/bad, benevolent/exploitive, etc. The themes she is most concerned with include colonialism, slavery, power, cultural imperialism, and all the moral conundrums they entail. If the Oankali are so benevolent, why do they only offer humanity the option of cooperating or being left to die off due to sterilization? They have already judged human civilization as unworthy of continued existence, and while they abhor outright violence, the Oankali essentially hold complete power over humans. Still, for a potential oppressor, they are far from being the worst. So there are no easy moral conclusions to be drawn, but plenty to think about.

Incidentally, I’m always cautious about reading into a text overly direct parallels with current social issues. There’s no question that Octavia Butler, a black female author in a field previously dominated by white men, has an interest in issues of race and cultural dominance. However, first and foremost she is a science fiction writer, and the XENOGENESIS series is a story about all of humanity, faced with its own self-destructive behavior, and given a choice to be saved but utterly transformed by an alien race. So I don’t think her story can be reduced to merely an allegory of colonialism, cultural imperialism, or racism in alien guise, even though these play an important role. If I had to choose one key theme for this series, it would be ‘transformation,’ with all the implications it has for both sides.

In both Dawn and Adulthood Rites, we gradually come to see through the experiences of Akin that both humans and Oankali are less than perfect, and their motivations are not completely altruistic. In the first book I felt that Butler strongly leaned towards the Oankali, and though we certainly learn a great deal more about their biology and social structure in Adulthood Rites, we also see that they treat humans with a certain contempt and lack of understanding. It is only through the eyes of Akin that the flaws and mistake of both sides become more apparent. I’ll have to read the final installment, Imago, to discover where this story will lead to, but any science fiction book that can explore such serious themes, without simplistic moralizing or becoming just a vehicle for political or social views, will get five stars from me whether the final outcome favors humanity, the Oankali, or a combination thereof.
Profile Image for Beverly.
835 reviews314 followers
January 15, 2018
This second of the series left me feeling sad for the humans who keep repeating their stupid, violent behavior. Akin in trying to save them must lose himself and lose his own people.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lee  (the Book Butcher).
278 reviews73 followers
March 3, 2022
Get ready to go down the extraterrestrial rabbit hole as our story follows Akin the half Oankali half human son of Lilith Iyapo from dawn the first book. we get an inside look into the Oankali society but not too much to be mind boggling since Akin is only half. He only partly understands the Oankali. even humans like Lilith are a bit of a mystery to Akin.

i can't really scratch the surface here without giving away spoilers from the first book Dawn. but although Octavia Butler is a great author, she has a bad habit of foreshadowing. so, in her style I'll try to not give everything away! just know Lilith was successful in bringing humanity back to earth. humans can't have children without Oankali. Lilith has accepted this and has many "construct" children and live in a village of Lo with Nikanj, Dichaan, and Ahajas her Oankali mates. You guessed it that means humanity will forever be changed by the Oankali and only interbred children will be born. Some like Lilith have accepted this, others have not. The one who can't accept the Oankali "trade" are called the resistors. Akin becomes obsessed with helping save the human race as is. Adulthood Rites is as much a story about the resistors as it is Akin's childhood. Akin goes through the world trying to make since of it and lending the reader his perception.

I hate writing reviews for mid trilogy novels almost as much as y'all hate reading them. Even though Lilith takes a backseat in this i liked it slightly better than dawn. Butler's great way of writing relationships is on display here. Can't wait to read the third book Imago!
Profile Image for Justo Martiañez.
404 reviews136 followers
October 2, 2023
4/5 Estrellas

Este segundo libro de la serie xenogénesis ya no me ha impactado tanto.

Tenemos un personaje maravilloso, Akin, un construido, la nueva especie mitad humano, mitad oankali, que estos últimos han diseñado para heredar el futuro.

¿Y qué ha pasado con los humanos? Muchos de los supervivientes han sido liberados en la Tierra, ligeramente modificados para ser más longevos y mas resistentes a las enfermedades. Unos se han resignado al futuro diseñado para ellos, y colaboran con los oankali en sus originales relaciones sexuales y familiares para dar vida a los "construidos", otros se han asentado en solitario y han formado sociedades humanas tradicionales y muchos se han echado al monte y se dedican a saquear, robar y matar, muy "humano" todo.

Pero hay algo que los oankali han arrebatado a la humanidad, la capacidad de reproducirse entre ellos. No confian en el ser humano como especie y consideran que si dejan que vuelvan a reproducirse, volverán a entrar tarde o temprano en una espiral de autodestrucción.

¿Y qué pasa con Akin? ¿que tiene de especial? Es el único construido macho, nacido de humana (un poco machista esto), y por eso manifiesta una predisposición natural para comprender a los humanos. La peripecia vital de Akin entre los distintos grupos humanos que sobreviven a duras penas, cada vez más angustiados y deprimidos ante su segura extinción, lo llevará a plantear una tercera vía, aunque la aceptación de la misma conllevará muchas dificultades entre los oankali y entre algunos inmovilista e incrédulos grupos de humanos. ¿Cuál es esta tercera vía? Lo siento muchachos, toca leerse el libro. Asistiremos a su desarrollo en la tercera entrega.

Me encantan los planteamientos que realiza la autora sobre nuestra especie, esa dicotomía entre autodestrucción y resistencia ante las adversidades, entre inmovilismo y creatividad, entre estulticia e inteligencia. Lo plasma maravillosamente en esta serie y te hace oscilar entre la falta absoluta de confianza en el género humano y la mayor de las esperanzas ante nuestra capacidad de resiliencia.

Una bonita lección, que creo que todavía no hemos aprendido.

Toca descanso e intercalar alguna otra lectura, antes de abordar el último desafío de nuestra especie.
489 reviews57 followers
July 15, 2011
Sequel to Dawn. The one where Akin, a human-looking child with a mix of human and oankali genes, is kidnapped and grows up among villages of human resisters.

This sequel focuses on the feelings of the humans who have chosen not to mix with or cooperate with the oankali, and so it's not surprising that its view of humanity is depressing as hell.

This re-read I noticed something that hadn't struck me the first time: The oankali don't have stories -- don't seem to understand why anyone would want them -- and they don't like music. When I read these books in high school, I remember thinking, "Why would anyone cling to human life when the oankali are so much better and more interesting?" -- but lack of stories and music gives me pause.

I don't see that as a flaw in the book, just as the aliens being alien. Things I do consider to be flaws in the book:

- The view of genetics seems unduly mechanistic -- the idea that behavior, character, personality are all in the genes, as if you could say about humans what you say about dogs: "This breed is good with children," "this breed is friendly," etc. (And anyone who's ever had more than one dog of the same breed knows how questionable that is even when talking about dogs.)

- The idea of gender is rather mechanistic as well.

- Again everyone is heterosexual. In fact, homophobia seems to be one of the prime reasons why humans (at least male humans) rebel against trading with the oankali -- the fact that the ooloi are not female and yet the human men want to have sex with them, and this freaks them out.

- Among the resisters, women are trade goods, and no one seems to see any way of changing this. (There are guns, so unequal physical strength shouldn't be an inevitable prediction of unequal power, but women don't fight back, band together, or begin preemptively shooting men on sight.) No one, in fact, seems to have proposed any rule of law whatsoever; it's worse than a Western.

- The characterization of most of the humans is kind of weak, and of the oankali it's even worse. The oankali can be differentiated from one another based on gender, to an extent, but they don't seem to have separate character traits. There are no oankali who are lazy, or unusually creative, or secretive, or playful; there are only males, females, and ooloi.

So I'm seeing weaknesses in these books that I didn't see when I first read them. But I still think that the idea of the "human contradiction" is a brilliant piece of social criticism, and the whole human-oankali dilemma continues to fascinate me.

One scene I remembered with great vividness from when I read this book decades ago: the scene where Akin "tastes" plastic for the first time and describes it as the most concentrated poison he's ever experienced.
Profile Image for Iloveplacebo.
384 reviews214 followers
December 13, 2022
4'5 / 5

Al igual que el primero me ha parecido único, por lo original, por los personajes tan humanos (y tan oankalis, todo hay que decirlo), por todos los temas éticos y/o filosóficos, por como se desarrolla, por como está escrito. Leer a esta autora es una gozada.

Seguimos con la vida de Lilith, pero esta vez no será la protagonista; el protagonista será uno de sus hijos. Un hijo nacido de ella -humana- y de un oankali macho (aunque en realidad no hay parejas, más bien tríos, o también como se le llame a una pareja de 5).

Veremos la vida de Akin -el hijo de Lilith- desde que es un recién nacido -incluso sabemos algo de él antes de que nazca- hasta su edad adulta.
Es algo así como el mesías de la humanidad, pero no tanto. Al ser mestizo, digamos que está obligado a entender a ambas partes -la parte humana y la parte oankali-, y sentirá el deber y sobre todo la necesidad de ayudar a los humanos que no quieren ser parte del trueque con los oankali.

El libro tiene un final abierto, ya que todo terminará en el tercero.

Una historia muy interesante y emocionante. Muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
May 31, 2019
Impressive. I definitely liked this second story in the trilogy better than the first. The other was very much a foundation, but while we really don't follow Lillith from the first, we do follow her hybrid son as he makes his way through an early difficult childhood and into his Adulthood Rite.

Akim is a victim as much as he is a bridge between the ignorant and dispirited humans brought down to Earth and the aliens who misunderstand our humanity. We're a paradox of hierarchical madness and intelligence and are doomed to always destroy ourselves, after all, and even tho the aliens give us free access to a good life, fixing any malady, and the opportunity to have children (with two humans and one alien in the mix), most humans resort to stealing half-breed children since we are unable to have normal children now, rape and raid other villages, and murder for the sport of it. Or out of the sheer desperation of resisting something that cannot be resisted.

Humanity is dead.

Akim finds empathy in a way that the aliens cannot.

Back in the late 80's, this might have sold as a grimdark dystopia but comparing it to today's fare, it really never gets THAT dark. Hope is pretty big.

I really appreciate the direction this book took. I kinda expected it to be a little whiny but it never really went there. Just adult situations, strong emotions, and in-depth exploration of the themes. Quite good.
Profile Image for Lois .
1,871 reviews479 followers
July 27, 2023
2023 Reread:
I'm really just rereading this series during a stressful move for comfort.

2021 Reread:
I love what this book offers. Its not a direct continuation of Lilith's story but it allows you to see what she became and the family she builds with her Oankali mates.
Akin is charming and one of my favorite characters of Butler's.
This book deals with a fatal contradiction that I agree with Butler in many ways feels like its human nature.
I don't agree thats our nature though. I think the last almost 600 yrs of brutality has been confused for human nature.
I don't agree that white supremacy is human nature. I don't even think its a natural state for white folks.
So I think this contradiction can be overcome with a honest look at who we actually are rather than the lies we ymtell ourselves.
Still I would stick with the Oankali. I find the idea fascinating and always have.

Review from 2020 reread:
This is every bit as good as I remember. This book picks up decades after Dawn and features the first human-born male Construct. I loved Akin and his adventures. He's right about a human Akjai. We probably will destroy it but we deserve the chance. Personally I wouldn't go but I'd be more peaceful knowing humanity was continuing unaltered somewhere far away from my descendants.
Profile Image for Claudia.
960 reviews556 followers
June 22, 2017
The story continues few years after the events in Dawn . Earth is habitable again, the Oankali allowed humans to live ‘free’ (they are called resisters) or with them in the Amazonian jungle. ‘Free’ is not just what is should be; all humans have been sterilized and they can only procreate with Oankali involvement, so homo sapiens is heading for extinction. First ‘construct’ - mixed race - children are born; some of the resisters love them, others are afraid of them, others feel revulsion. One thing is certain: Akin, the first male construct born, will change the world and their lives.

Does it sound familiar? In the 80s, when the story was written, the union between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ was something perceived exactly as above. Not that today is much different... Mrs. Butler has a way of telling things bluntly and you just can’t not be affected. It is not as disturbing as the first part from the same PoV but it has its fair share of them and more.

Again, it’s not an action driven story; this is a coming-of-age one, continuing with the same profound themes started in the first volume.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
October 24, 2017
Somewhere between the particular texture of the writing and the thought-sparking brilliance of the ideas, Octavia Butler's work never fails to hook me in so far I never want to leave. Like Dawn, this novel had me rambling on to friends and family about Lilith and her relationships, the Oankali and their culture.

One of my friends, when I described how the Oankali feel pain when they cause it, and feel pleasure when they cause it, picked up on the theme that recurs throughout all Octavia's work that I've read - of unconditional empathy. What kind of culture would people who cannot help but feel each other's emotions and sensations have?

The Oankali's deep appreciation of life (that of all beings) and their unconditional empathy explains their rescue of Earth, their unconcern with possessions that don't sustain and benefit life, their whole engagement with humans on all its fascinating levels. Much of that engagement, and of the culture they are creating with humans, is sympathetic and delightful, but it has disturbing elements that set up intense tensions. Because they know that humans are genetically inclined to self-destructive hierarchy, they refuse to allow humans to reproduce, except with the Oankali to produce hybrid offspring. Because they can feel others' emotions, sometimes they use manipulation:
"They forced you to have kids?" the man asked.
"One of them surprised me," she said. "It made me pregnant, then told me about it. Said it was giving me what I wanted but would never come out and ask for."
"Was it?"
"Yes." She shook her head from side to side. "Oh, yes. But if I had the strength not to ask, it should have had the strength to let me alone."
In this emerging world, some will have to find the strength Lilith mentions; to suffer will and desire to point in opposite directions...

The humans who resist the Oankali's plan to "trade" (to trade genes by reproducing) with humans aren't very sympathetic, but their cause, self-determination, is compelling enough to have narrative traction. The cruelty on both sides with which Lilith's child is burdened with a key role in bringing peace and balance also speaks to a flaw in both cultures: the tendency to use others for our convenience. Humans force other humans and other animals to be of use to us; the Oankali do the same, though their means are much more subtle (they make being useful pleasureable). Maybe empathy by itself, though it often leads us to behave more ethically, is not enough.
Profile Image for Shey.
131 reviews42 followers
March 14, 2023
Book 2 of the Xenogenesis series, where Akin Iyapo has five biological parents. Yep. Butler's imaginative mind was such a masterpiece that she made it happen and nailed it.
- this is not really a spoiler.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
933 reviews280 followers
February 23, 2021
” Una razza che cresce, che cambia.
Tu sei una parte importante di questo cambiamento.
Sei un pericolo al quale potremmo non sopravvivere.”


Un magnifico incipit che descrive le sensazioni di una nascita speciale.
Akin, figlio di quella Lilith Iyapo che nel primo volume della saga(Ultima Genesi) era stata designata come mediatrice tra la razza aliena degli oankali e ciò che rimaneva di quella umana.
La terra è tornata ad essere abitabile dopo l’Inverno Nucleare, la distruzione causata da una guerra atomica.
Il progetto alieno di ripopolare la terra prevede, però, una fusione tra i popoli che non tutti accettano.
Gli oppositori fondano, allora dei villaggi di resistenza rifiutando, non solo, ogni pensiero di fusione ma l’accettazione stessa della razza aliena.

Aki nasce come ibrido che sperimenterà direttamente quanto gli umano temano la diversità:

«Gli esseri umani temono la diversità» gli aveva detto Lilith una volta. «Gli oankali invece la cercano avidamente. Gli umani perseguitano chi è diverso da loro, eppure ne hanno bisogno, per definirsi meglio e attribuirsi uno stato sociale. Gli oankali cercano la diversità, se ne appropriano...»

Il filo tematico teso nell'Ultima Genesi è lo stesso:
l'accettazione dell’Altro, lo Straniero, il Diverso; la conoscenza reciproca e lo scambio di informazioni come arricchimento e crescita; la maternità; il sesso; l'istinto di sopraffazione maschile negli uomini e anche l'ecologia.

La vita umana è in una condizione disperata: bloccata in un’eterna giovinezza e senza possibilità di procreare.
Ogni illusione di un futuro diverso e quindi ogni speranza è sterile.

Ci si chiede: chi è la preda e chi è il predatore?

Se l’uomo è votato all’autodistruzione, gli oankali sono coloro che salvano o cambiano solo la forma dell’estinzione umana?

”Non è mai esistito uno scambio privo di pericoli.”

Akin è l'essere che porta in sé il cambiamento.
Non a caso il titolo originale del romanzo è ” Adulthood Rites,”

La metamorfosi del suo essere non sarà, però, solo il segno di una nuova stirpe ma l’esordio di ciò che neppure le forme massime di intelligenza aliena avevano previsto:
la speranza di andare oltre alla Contraddizione.

”La Contraddizione Umana. La Contraddizione, come era più spesso chiamata fra gli oankali. Intelligenza e comportamento gerarchico. Una contraddizione affascinante, seducente, mortale. Quella che aveva spinto gli umani all'olocausto finale.”

Butler in questo nuovo capitolo della saga della Xenogensi, sviluppa ed elabora lo spazio della diversità ampliandone i confini.
La nascita e la crescita di Akin offrono l’occasione di mettere in campo il ventaglio di possibilità che ogni nuova generazione potenzialmente rappresenta:
un’altra possibilità.

Nota 1 Applausi, applausi e incrocio le dita su una prossima traduzione di Imago!

Nota 2 un articolo interpreta il romanzo nel dopo elezione Trump.
Che interessante correlazione!!!

Profile Image for Mimi.
699 reviews198 followers
February 7, 2022
Adulthood Rites takes place several years after Dawn and shows life on new Earth as both humans and oankali have resettled some of the land and formed villages.

The story follows one of Lilith's sons, Akin, a human-oankali construct, as he grows to maturity. Akin is the first construct to be born to a human mother, and because he looks more human on the outside, he's easily accepted by other humans who have chosen to reject the oankali and the gene trade (from Dawn). Looks are deceiving though since Akin is much more advance and intelligent than most human adults, even as an infant. Since they can't have children of their own, the humans who've rejected the oankali turn to abduction; they only choose the most human-looking children to take back to their village. Akin is abducted by a group of scavenger and sold to a village where he lives for several years among humans. Through this experience, he's able to learn from them and reconcile a part of his curious nature. Later on, he comes to understand why having human children born to human parents is so important to these people. He also comes to understand the weight of the knowledge of extinction these people face as they look to the future and not see themselves anywhere. When Akin is fully grown, he becomes a mediator between human and oankali since only he can understand both sides that well.

Full series review: http://covers2covers.wordpress.com/20...
Profile Image for leynes.
1,118 reviews3,037 followers
May 5, 2023
Adulthood Rites (1988) is the second book in Butler's Lilith's Brood trilogy. It takes place 30 years after the end of Dawn. Humans and Oankali now live together on Earth, but not in complete peace. Some humans have accepted the bargain and live with the Oankali, giving birth to hybrid children called "constructs." Others, however, have refused the bargain and live in separate, all-human, "resister" villages.

The Ooloi have made all humans infertile, so the only children born are those made with Ooloi intervention. This creates a great deal of tension and strain as the humans consider their lives meaningless without reproduction, especially as they see themselves being outbred by the Oankali-human constructs. Desperate humans often steal human-looking construct children to raise as their own.

In Adulthood Rites, we follow Akin, the first male construct born to a human mother (Lilith). Akin has more human in him than any construct before him. The book focuses on Akin's struggle with his human and Oankali heritage. As a human, he understands the desire to fight for the survival of humanity as an independent race. As an Oankali he understands that the combination of the species is necessary and that humans would destroy themselves again if left alone.

Early on in the novel, Akin is kidnapped by the resisters as an infant, when the only evidence of his construct status is a tentacle-like tongue through which he samples his world in the Oankali manner of identifying DNA. The Oankali allow the resisters to keep him for a sustained period of time so that he might understand his human nature more fully, but at the cost of the connection to his paired sibling that would have happened had he stayed with his family. His isolation is hugely painful to them both, and he is taken to the orbiting ship to experience whatever healing he and his insufficiently-paired sibling can be granted. During that time, he travels around the ship with an Akjai, an Oankali who has no human DNA. Through these experiences, he realizes that humans, too, need an Akjai group, and his conviction ultimately persuades the Oankali.
“They won’t survive.”
“Perhaps not.”
“There’s no perhaps. They won’t survive their Contradiction.”
“Then let them fail. Let them have the freedom to do that, at least.”
Humans will be given Mars, modified sufficiently to (barely) support human existence, despite the Oankali certainty that the Mars colony will destroy itself eventually. Akin returns to tell the resisters and begin gathering them up to have their fertility restored before transport to their new world.

Character-wise, I enjoyed Adulthood Rites the most out of all three books. I simply have a soft spot for Gabe and Tate, two of the resister humans, and I would've loved to see more of them. Alas, after they are shipped off to Mars at the end of this book, we never hear from them again.

I was a little bit disappointed with how Butler explored the themes of sexuality, consent and colonisation in this book. Dawn was off to a promising start, posing many intriguing questions, but it seems like Butler is stalling and not expanding her world and its problems. It seems like we're circling the same questions, without providing answers, and also without posing new ones. It's a shame.

Unfortunately, in terms of heteronormativity this book is just as bad as the first one. When explaining the Oankali-human family dynamic Butler writes: Oankali females have "plenty room inside for children. And plenty of strength to protect the children, born and unborn", whereas "males are seekers and collectors of life." Essentially saying that all women are good for is breeding and raising children whereas men naturally want to wander the Earth and explore. Excuse me? Why? What? How? And where? It's infuriating.

When Tino joins Lilith's family, Butler writes: "It had been good to have a Human male in the family. It had been a balance found after painful years of imbalance.", insinuating that a family is only whole/balanced when it includes parents of both sexes... which is, of course, bullshit. But again, Butler doesn't touch the topic of homosexuality, it's as if she forgot that queer relationships exist, relationships that are just as whole and balanced as their heterosexual counterparts, not even speaking of the fact that single-parent households can be more balanced that two parent-household, depending on who's running it. Butler's ideas surrounding sexuality and family seem archaic... which is surprising since she's such a progressive writer when it comes to questions of race. I would've suspected her to do better than this.

From a modern perspective, Butler's blind spots are glaringly clear and unfortunately, they lessen my enjoyment of her story. It just feels like something is missing. And again, I simply cannot relate to all these human characters whose only concern is reproduction. It feels overly simplistic to me.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,795 reviews962 followers
September 8, 2016
I liked the second book in the Xenogenesis series a lot. There were some problems with the fact that I thought the character Akin did a total change that didn't seem reasonable after seeing how the Resisters acted. His thought process that if only the Resisters were granted total freedom would lead them to be better than their overall nature I thought was naive based on what he witnessed and even based on what occurred in book #1.

In "Dawn" the main character was told from Lilith Iyapo. Lilith awakens hundreds of years after Earth was consumed by a nuclear war. Finding out that she was asleep and an alien race named the Oankali have come to breed with humans in order to create a new species worthy to trade feels her with fear and revulsion. In the end, Lilith agrees to the deal when she realizes that she can never be with her fellow humans who refused the deal by the Oankali who want to live apart from them. Those humans who refused to breed with the Oankali were made sterile before they left the alien spaceship and now live apart in so-called Resister villages.

Now 26 years later, Lilith and other humans who stayed with the Oankali are living with them and all of them have what they call constructs (children born with human and Okanli DNA). Lilith's son Akin is curious about his parents, the world around him and when he is kidnapped by a group of Resister men he gets to see human beings up close and personal.

I actually liked the character of Akin. I just didn't get how he came to the conclusion that he did about human beings. Especially because he saw the men who took him murder. And when he is left with another camp of people he once again saw humans murder each other. He found out that humans were making guns again. He also saw that most males had no respect for females autonomy and that women were being sold for goods or just stolen to be raped. If anything, I think that being a female on this new Earth was straight up crap in my opinion. The only thing that young girls and women seemed to be valued for was their ability to give birth.

We have other characters we are familiar with in this one. We get to see Lilith again, and we get to see her frustration with the choice she made.

We also get some new characters as well. For example, a new man comes to the village that Akin and Lilith live at (his name is Tino) who though he wants to be with Lilith is told not going to happen, you have to also agree to be with an Oankali as well which he doesn't want to be with due to him being repulsed by them. But once again, we have another person's consent to be ignored because everyone is telling him that he wants what is about to happen.

The story follows Akin as he grows up and when he metamorphoses into his final form and you have him worrying about whether he will be accepted by humans that he wants to lead since he may not look like them anymore.

I really enjoyed the writing and the dialogue. Especially when Akin is younger and he has realizations regarding the humans who have kidnapped him. Frankly at certain points in the book I was a little horrified by what the humans who decided to resist the Oankali were all about. They were actually just as bad in different ways from my point of view.

The flow though got a little slow and downright boring when Akin is back living with his family again. Things didn't pick up again towards the end.

The setting of Earth that now is very similar to what I would consider African villages I thought was an odd choice. Especially as one person who noted that most of the Resisters had went and built houses again and even had windows on their homes. The Oankali and human villages just lived in huts. Also mostly everyone on the planet eats vegetarian now (I recall in book #1 they told Lilith she didn't need meat so they didn't go and make any for the humans).

The world building is still pretty impressive though I also puzzled how in the world did humans who spoke different languages, have different backgrounds just come together and create their own towns/villages. And how in the heck did the people in the south (as they are called) figure out how to create guns. I got bows and arrows, and even machetes, but guns?

I also like that the bigger question is still out there about even if you do give human beings the right to settle away from the Oankali and to have children again, will they still manage to rise about what they Oankali consider their fatal flaw which is to be hierarchical in life?

I went and got book #3 since I am really curious how this series ends.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
816 reviews2,588 followers
July 24, 2016
This is the second of three novels in the Xenogenesis series by Octavia Butler. It is a fine example of a well-thought-out and executed sci-fi concept. It held my attention from beginning to end.

The main character from the first book, Lillith, may be the only human on Earth who is fertile. She has a child, Akin. However, Akin is not an ordinary human, as he is the child of five individuals; a male and female human, a male and female Oankali, and a third sex Oankali known as an "ooloi". In particular, Akin is cognitively highly developed, and capable of speaking as an infant. But he is still in an infant's body when he is kidnapped by some raiders. He is afraid to show his level of development to the raiders, as they might take fright and kill him.

Akin is settled into a human village, but is constantly on edge due to the easily frightened and offended people. The population of humans on Earth is very sparse, and there is no government, and the continent is pretty much lawless. Even though humans have practically destroyed all of the Earth, they seem not content; they must continue to kill each other. They are extremely paranoid, and afraid of other villages, raiders, as well as the aliens. Anybody who has been in contact with the aliens is especially vulnerable to being killed.

Octavia Butler's personal philosophy is clearly spelled out in her books. She believes that humans doom themselves, because of their need to form "hierarchical" societies. In order to survive, humans must blend their DNA with that of the aliens, who have a non-hierarchical society. Butler's philosophy mirrors her experience of racism and human cruelty. I highly recommend it to all fans of science fiction.
Profile Image for Gergana.
227 reviews401 followers
August 15, 2016
Would this really have happened to us? If someone pressed the "reset" button on our planet, would humanity go back to pillaging, raping and kidnapping to ensure the survival of their own village or simply for the satisfaction of our basic needs? I find it hard to believe, maybe because I don't want to.

According to the alien species in this book, as humans we are deeply hierarchical, we follow or we want to be followed, which is the main reason for the majority of our wars and atrocities committed in our past. It's all about who holds the most power, who belongs to the greater group/nation of people, who has the RIGHT religious beliefs and so on. Even when we strive for equality (communism), we still manage to corrupt it - there always has to be someone on top, "leading" us.

Anyways, Adulthood Rites is a great sequel to Dawn, although not as good. I found the first half of the book highly enjoyable and thought-provoking, but the second one was lost on me.

The reason why I am unable to rate Miss Octavia's books 5 stars is because, despite how much they've shocked me and captivated me, I don't think I'll ever be able to reread them.

Conclusion If you feel like reading something deep and heavy on existential questions, Xenogenesis is the perfect series for you.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,541 followers
April 21, 2016
This is a brilliant and mind-blowing apocalyptic tale published in 1988. Instead of a cataclysm like an epidemic or a meteor strike, the event that threatens human existence is a very unusual form of invasion by beneficent aliens after we have nearly done ourselves in.

Human warfare and devastation of the Earth nearly wiped out the species, and a superior starfaring race of aliens, the Oankali, have stepped in and preserved the human race. They keep enough in suspension on their ship so that when Earth recovers enough with their help they can recolonize it. They don’t want to fight us, they want to join us. Join as in making a new and better bioengineered species, a hybrid construct. That’s their way, the key to their adaptive success as they move around the galaxy.

Most of the humans go bonkers when they wake up to see who is in charge. Just too horrific with their giant slug-like appearance and mind-melding mode of communication using many penetrating tentacles. In the first book in the trilogy, “Dawn”, we got to know Lilith as one of the few humans who had that special resilience to handle this sad situation. She befriends some of the beasties and come to understand their society, which is based on three genders—male, female, and a neuter form. The latter, the ooloi are especially wise and can manipulate brain chemistry to generate all kinds of emotions, including ecstasy. They use these abilities to function as a critical liaison in the mating process. Despite much disgust and periods of rebellion, Lilith learns to swing the threesome way. She helps other awakened humans to face this fate. Many consider her a traitor and try when they can to kill her.

In this story, mixed communities of aliens, humans, and hybrid children are living in small towns. The latter are all female humanoids with moderate degrees of alien features. Lilith has given birth to a hybrid male named Akin who looks normal except for a tongue which can sends out the sensory filaments to explore the world at a deep level. Large numbers of rebelling humans have run off to form their own communities, which the Oankali allow because they are kind. The have made them sterile for their own good. It would be cruel in their view to let them rebuild civilization destined to self-destruction again. What they call “Human Contradiction” is built into their genes, intelligence combined with a tendency toward an aggressive hierarchical society.

The reader can’t help but feel some shame for that truth as evident in the emergence of depraved, violent humans who lead a marauding life dependent on kidnapping of normal appearing hybrids and selling them to the settlers for trade goods. This is what happens to Akin. Even as a toddler in body, he is freakishly intelligent and perceptive. He comes to love some of the resisters and admire the nobility of their cause. Even though they are the path to warfare again, having invented and initiated the use of firearms, Akin can’t help feeling they deserve a chance to change and survive. He can see that the gift of survival in the form of symbiosis with alien genes and characters is still a kind of extinction. How can he persuade the all-knowing Oankali that the human species deserves another chance. How can he get the humans even to trust him to work toward a solution when he is destined to undergo a metamorphosis that will leave him physically much more a monster to them in appearance.

This read will disturb your vision of human nature and wrench your emotions between horror and sympathy in the shoes it puts you in. Given that Butler was black with feminist sensibilities, the echoes of the themes of racism, sexism, colonialism, and slavery will likely stir in your mind. But this is no simple allegory, and there is room for debate on her intentions and ambiguity over how she judges the human species. That is as it should be for a multifaceted work that will stand the test of time as a classic.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews664 followers
January 30, 2015
This book starts years after the first one, as the humans and Oankali are established on Earth, and have been giving birth to Oankali/human construct children for quite a while now. I maybe missed the explanation of why they're called constructs, because aren't all children through the mediating influence of an Oankali ooloi (their third sex, masters of genemixing) constructed, whether part human or not? I mean, isn't that what makes the Oankali what they are?

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for César Bustíos.
279 reviews101 followers
October 24, 2019
"Parte de lo que somos continuará existiendo. Y, algún día, parte de lo que somos irá a las estrellas. Esto nos parece mejor que quedarnos aquí sentados, pudriéndonos en vida, para luego morirnos y no dejar nada tras nosotros. ¿Cómo puede ser un pecado el que la gente tenga descendencia?"

Brillante y maravillosamente escrita. Hasta ahora no creo haber leído nada mejor que esto sobre contacto alienígena, aunque, claro, yo no soy de fiar ;-)

¡A terminar la saga!

Profile Image for Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali.
Author 17 books108 followers
March 12, 2014
I wavered between three and four stars for this one. I eventually decided on four because despite my annoyance with the constant talk of mating and the sexual function of the Oankali, I deeply admire the very fluid and ingenious way that Butler introduces her central issues and messages.
Much like Dawn, the first book in this series, we have been presented with moral and ethical dilemmas that do not have easy answers.
The Oankali have saved Earth and the few remaining inhabitants from a man made disaster. We apparently went to war and destroyed not only ourselves but our planet. According to the Oankali we have two incompatible traits that are the cause of our near distinction: intelligence and our hierarchical nature. They have proposed a trade in which we can be saved and they can sample our unique genetics. They propose a blending of our races, but in doing so, humankind will cease to exist as we know it.
The Oankali have a complex mating/communication system that rankles against our very fixed understanding of gender and sexuality. The Oankali have male and female but also a third nongender and all three are needed for procreation as well as sexual pleasure. Human men have the most difficult time with this concept.
I won't drop any heavy spoilers but consider these points that dominate the plot:
1. Do the Oankali have the right to help us even if we don't want the help?
2. Should we accept said help even if it means the end of our race as we know it, by creating a biracial tri-gendered species that is no longer quite human?
3. What is humanity or what does it mean to be human?
4. Humankind in this fascinating tale has been given the opportunity to reestablish communities on Earth after the Oankali healed her. Humankind has proven to be violent, stubborn, hierarchical, possessive, unruly, and in many ways cruel. We are very inhumane. With that in mind, considering our self destructive natures, do we even deserve to be saved in this human form with the flaws identified as responsible for our undoing in tact?
5. The Oankali, being a tri-gendered race have a method of procreation that while it is definitely pleasure based relies as much on the mental as the physical and it blurs the lines of gender as well as considerations of incest. As you can imagine humans have a difficult time sorting this out.
While I'm not bothered by the blurring of sexuality in these books, I am a bit disturbed by the amount of time dedicated to the intricacies. The Oankali love new sensations, love receiving and giving pleasure, so even the most mundane exchanges of information of communications come off as sexual. Admittedly, I'm still having confusion about how all of this works, despite Butler's clear resonant prose. That said, there is so much discussion of finding a mate, the act of mating, the act of linking, arousal, sex and lovemaking , non-consensual encounters between human and Oankali, actual violent rape among the humans, puberty and metamorphosis that I felt absolutely drenched in sex throughout this entire book. To be clear, this isn't some raunchy blow by blow, but the imagery is certainly plain and often enough to rankle, and it felt like overload to me.
What I admire most is Butler's ability to write human being as they are. Her view of humanity is candid and rings true in every way. She doesn't spare our feelings with some pie in the sky picture of humanity. In this series, we have been laid bare on the page in all of our glory and flaws. Boy are we flawed. With that truth in mind the mood of this tale is fairly dark and while I actually prefer my stories that way, the sheer reality and honesty make this a particularly heavy read. I may take a break before finishing this trilogy. We'll see.
Profile Image for Lilia Ford.
Author 15 books185 followers
June 13, 2015

With this volume, I thought Xenogenesis moved sharply in a more "speculative" direction. It had its interest, certainly, but the structure and narration consistently pulled the novel away from the more dramatic energies in the storytelling, towards the more conceptual. None of this was helped by having the main character and narrative POV, Akin, be an infant for roughly the first half--also those parts of the story that were most traditionally action-packed and "human" oriented. As we move to the Oankali sections, I respected the ambition of Butler's attempts to represent such a fundamentally alien perspective, but they risked becoming dry and difficult to understand. There is a revealing irony in this, deliberate on Butler's part, that Akin's goal is the preservation of humanity, and yet Butler seemed intent on moving her storytelling closer to what might be called the Oankali, or at the very least, the hybrid construct perspective.

Bottom line: It's intellectually challenging and has its fascinations, but the book ends up feeling much more like a speculative exercise or narrative experiment than the first.
Profile Image for Angela.
419 reviews923 followers
October 19, 2022
Spoiler Free Series Review: https://youtu.be/341LzIt1mrI

This is my favorite book in the series and I think that's because I am watching a new society be developed and the main perspective is of a child that is between two worlds, which I always find to be a fascinating perspective. I also enjoyed learning more about this alien species, their goals and where this book ended. This was also the least uncomfortable work in the series for me.
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