I'm a sci-fi writer and reader, although, let's be honest - I'll read just about anything that moves me, regardless of the genre.
I had no idea what to expect from Fledgling. I've been wanting to read some Octavia E. Butler for a while, and I have to say that while I learned I don't think I'm all that into vampire literature, I am an Octavia Butler fan. Let me back up.
Prior to reading Fledgling, the only other vampire book I'd read was Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, which it turns out isn't a 'normal' vampire story. I say that because I, at one point in my life, had an embarrassing period where I watched a lot of Vampire Diaries (I know, it's shameful, it really is.) Vampire Diaries was a lot more like Fledgling than Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer in terms of the sexual themes. It seems that one of the benefits to being a vampire is that traditional sexual mores aren't an issue. I'm going to tell you right now, in Fledgling, the main character has the body of a 10-year-old, the consciousness of a 53-year-old, and the libido of a teenager. The first sex scene is between Shori (the 10-year-old looking vampire) and Wright, a mid-twenties male. It takes a minute to wrap your mind around it, which I think is exactly what Butler was going for.
After finishing the book, I realized there were a lot of 'pushing the boundaries' and 'expand your view point' themes. The first is obviously what I've already mentioned. Butler challenges her reader's preconceived ideals about love. Shori is a mature adult in her culture, so the fact that she has a child's body doesn't interfere with her adult activities. People also have very different relationships in Fledgling - multiple partners, same sex partners, different species partners, wildly different aged partners - in Bulter's world, nothing is out of bounds.
At the same time [ the book revolves around an apparent hate crime. I won't get too into that, but Shori is a one of a kind human/vampire hybrid with dark skin. Some people aren't so happy about this.
I loved Shori. She's intelligent and deals with highly emotional issues in a logical matter. This isn't to say Butler created a robot of a main character, but rather, I found Shori a great female lead. She's probably why I kept reading. I was a little frustrated with all the details about the family trees and intricacies of Ina (vampire) life. The book reads like the first in a series, and unfortunately, it isn't going to be one. My main complaint about this book is that at times, I felt like nothing had happened and that the book wasn't going anywhere. I kept reading because Butler's writing is compelling, as is Shori, but I didn't care about the minutia of Ina life.
That said though. This was a quick fun read. If you're into vampire fiction or you want to give it a go, read this.