Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler

Written several decades ago, Adulthood Rites tells the story of an Earth beset by an alien migration. The Oankali, a race of space faring creatures who, together with their biological constructs, can see the makeup of humanity, have subjugated Earth under a regime of mutual cooperation.

The plot picks up with a young boy named Akin. He is a Oankali construct child, meaning, he is of both alien and human DNA. Ultra-intelligent by human standards, and highly sought after by human Resisters for his very human appearance, he is kidnapped while he and his mother are harvesting crops.

What follows his tale of living among people who are not his own, individuals who are foreign to him and desperate to live life as they did before the invaders arrived. To survive he must adapt himself to human custom and convince his Oankali counterparts that humanity deserves a second chance.

While originally the plot is slow going and uninteresting the author writes in a manner where chapters are short and to the point. By the end of the book the narrative feels at least twice as long as the pages list (which is a positive occurrence by my standards). About halfway through, once Akin begins to realize his purpose and becomes proactive, the plot picks up and transforms into fascination.

While it ends on a cliffhanger which seems more situated to an end of a chapter instead of a book, the ultimate payoff is enjoyable and well done. While it is not a revolutionary plot nor filled with remarkable characters, it does possess a healthy dose of realism which the sci-fi genre often lacks. Handled with maturity and grace Adulthood Rites is a decent jaunt of race and understanding.

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