I am not a huge fan of science fiction, and while I didn’t struggle to get through this book it definitely was not one of my first choices of things to do.
Dawn is remarkable in that it does have a diverse cast of characters which is unique in the science fiction realm. Even more rare, is that Dawn does not utilize harsh stereotypes and fetishization of those races and ethnicities, which is the usual case for POCs in science fiction pieces. In that respect, I quite enjoyed the book. It was refreshing in that Lilth (a black woman) and Joseph (an Asian [was he Japanese? I can’t remember] man) were not reduced to punchlines about their race. Butler is a woman of color and (after perusing her Wikipedia entry) seems to have struggled greatly with her family and peers’ perception of science fiction and the black identity.
Almost every page seemed to add a new factor to Lilth’s captivity which made me uncomfortable. Lilth’s feeling of fascinated horror when meeting the alien race at first was described in such oddly sexual fashion that I was unsure were the story was going to go. Once we got into the weird bond that Lilth, Joseph, and Nikanj formed through tentacle sex (the penetrative connection to the spinal cords? The forced sharing of emotions? I don’t know what else to call it), I definitely did not know where it was going. And the cherry on top was the last few pages, after Lilth had been given powers and outcasted by the other humans due to that and after multiple attacks on her life, Lilth was impregnated by Nikanj and Joseph…. without her knowledge or consent? That was Lilth’s number one fear! Aongside the fear of the Oankaili eradicating the human race through evolution and reproduction. I think this will be an extremely interesting book to talk about as I am excited to hear what other people thought of it. Deep analysis of the passages was difficult because I am simply just trying to keep up.