Book Review: Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

Lauren Olmina is a hyperempath—the feels the pain of others. This makes her a pretty easy target, especially since her world is falling apart. Water is scarce in Southern California, where she lives, and it’s getting more scarce. Her gated community is mostly secure, but those on the outside, made desperate from poverty and drug abuse, are an increasingly threatening force. Her father, who is a minister as well as a professor, tries to keep them safe, but eventually disaster strikes and Lauren finds her family gone, and she has nowhere to go.

She begins to walk north, up California’s I-5 toward areas she’s heard have more abundant supplies of water. Along the way, she recruits others to join her and introduces them to the religion she is developing, called Earthseed. It’s basic belief, that God is change, helps them all cope with the chaotic world that surrounds them. Will the group survive the journey, and will there be a place for them when they arrive? Is there hope for humankind? By embracing the truth that the only constant is change, Lauren hopes to find out.

Octavia Butler, sometimes called the “Grand Dame” of science fiction, is an extraordinary author whose work is too little known by high school students today. Because of the dystopian themes, young protagonist, and familiar setting, Parable of the Sower makes a good addition to any library collection, particularly in California.