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Publisher's Summary

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened", she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever.

Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.

©1987 Octavia E. Butler (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Dawn

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling and addicting

The premise is so powerful and the book was so well written, the ideas were so well explored, that I never once left the story while listening to it. Most often I reflect on the story a bit, the writing, etc., not this one. I was all in and in a state of flow the whole time.

4 people found this helpful

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Weird and wonderful

This book is engaging and totally strange in every way.

I'm getting the next book in the trilogy because I got to listen to an excerpt at the end of this book.

Just read it. It's strange and shocking and bizarre but ....you won't be able to stop listening.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

lost interest quickly.

great start lost interest in the end.
I wanted to see more courage from humanity.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Amazing book all around. I am recommending this book to all my friends. Well written

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

difficult to get through.

The main character swings from horror to disgust to demanding. Lilith is very unlikeable because she doesn't seem to have any kind of humour, dark, sarcastic, or otherwise, and a drop of it here and there would have made it easier to listen. I find her to be unrelateable. so unfortunate because I like the premise.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lindsay
  • 2016-01-31

I couldn't tell if I loved it or hated it.

It was interesting. It is 'true' science fiction, not action in space, romance in space, drama in space, etc. ad nauseam.

The sci-fi components center primarily on biology and what it means to be human. But it also touches on human behavior, the limits of the mind, and physical limitations.

Additionally, the aliens seem truly alien, and their ship is even more imaginative, which I definitely appreciated. The other thing I really enjoyed was the constant edge that Butler keeps you on about the ethics of the Oankali. Are they good aliens or bad aliens? I still haven't decided. This is not an ugly invader alien shoot 'em up story. The conflict is very deep. I don't know if I want the humans to win, or if Earth would be better with the Oankali. At this point, it's interfering with my sleep.

192 people found this helpful

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  • Dubi
  • 2018-04-17

Good SF Tale, Rich in Subtext, Symbolism, Allegory

I once had a doctor check something out, turned out to be a spider bite, by (he said) the second most dangerous creature in New York City, the brown recluse spider. What's the most dangerous? I asked, knowing he would answer, "People". If you watch The Walking Dead, you know the gross deadly zombies are not the most dangerous or frightening denizens of that post-apocalyptic world -- the live humans are, by far.

In Dawn, even before the scary aliens arrive, humans have already wreaked so much havoc that billions are dead and the planet in uninhabitable, a ruined wasteland. When the kindly aliens try to help the few survivors reclaim a reborn Earth, they are met with recalcitrant, rebellious, and ultimately violent humans doing what humans to best, wreaking havoc.

But Dawn is so much deeper than that. Human nature is a major subject, examined in many ways. Yes, some are negative, but he whole package is too complex for simple statements -- humanity comes with its good, bad, and ugly, replete with warts and all, no matter how hard a super-advanced alien race tries to appeal to its better nature.

Such is Dawn. In the aftermath of a near-total worldwide apocalypse, aliens rescue the few remaining survivors and put them in suspended animation while they restore Earth. They revive Lilith Iyapo and task her, despite her reluctance, with leading the first group of humans to return to the newly reconstituted Earth. Early on, the story is about Lilith, her awakening, her initial exposure to the aliens, her way of dealing with a complex situation in which her saviors are also her captors.

The story then turns to the group under Lilith's care, as she awakens them one at a time or in small groups and tries to tell them about what is going on, hoping for cooperation as they work toward a peaceful and free return to Earth. Different people react in different ways -- and then the whole thing takes an unexpected turn when the aliens' true intentions are realized (no spoilers).

The plot and characters can easily be taken a face value -- it all works as straight ahead sci-fi, good but certainly not great classic sci-fi. What takes the whole enterprise to another level is the varied subtext which symbolizes contemporary issues of what we now call identity politics (a term not in wide use in 1987 when this book was published), raising issues of class, gender, sexual orientation, race, reproductive rights -- the most obvious symbols form an almost complete allegory about one particular issue that I will leave unnamed so as not to give anything away.

This is potent stuff, addictive and compelling listening, sometimes disturbing, always fascinating. Octavia Butler deserves all the praise she has gotten. I look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.l

36 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan B.
  • 2019-10-14

Intriguing, but ultimately unenjoyable.

I enjoyed the premise and the story, but the main character is so unlikable and really an unpleasant individual.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 2019-08-22

Conjugal alien encounters

Octavia E Butler's Dawn is the first book in her Xenogenesis series. The Earth has essentially destroyed itself through nuclear war. An alien species manages to save the few remaining humans and maintains them in a suspended animation while it restores the Earth itself. A young woman is selected to lead the reintroduction of humanity to Earth. This comes with a high cost. The alien race survives by co-mingling their genetic material with other races to form unique hybrids. This situation becomes untenable to most of the surviving humans and the woman must balance her need for companionship with irreversible loss of being strictly human.

Butler explores the loss of nearly everything, even down to the level of genetic heritage. The struggle for survival against the need for companionship is evident. At the same, the subtle, but substantial genetic enhancements serves to initiate her separation and eventual betrayal, by her fellow survivors. The fundamental question is how far will someone go to survive and survive as what?

The narration is well done, with reasonable character distinction. Pace is appropriately aligned with the plot making for a quick listen.

7 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2016-05-02

Strange, interesting, uncomfortable

This is an unusual story of a post-apocalyptic alien invasion. "Invasion" is not even really the right word, considering that mankind had all but destroyed itself already, and the alien Oankali merely rescued the survivors. "Rescued" them and put them in a sort of suspended hibernation aboard their giant world-like ship.

When Lilith Iyapo awakens, she is slowly made aware of her new situation. Not only is she one of the last survivors of the human race, but it's actually been hundreds of years since she "died" and she is now the unwilling "guest" of an alien race that has definite but unspoken plans for humanity.

Lilith behaves like a human being - imperfectly, sometimes irrationally. Slowly, the Oankali establish a relationship of sorts with her, characterized by mistrust on Lilith's part and inscrutable affection mixed with frustration and condescending from the Oankali. Lilith wants to meet other humans, but it never seems to go well. The Oankali are frustratingly vague, and while despite all of Lilith's paranoid imaginings, they never mistreat her or do anything to her at all, they also refuse most of her simplest requests, like paper to write on.

As she learns more about the Oankali and what they plan for her, she realizes that humans and Oankali are now inextricably bound together whether either race likes it or not.

Octavia Butler, the late, lamented genius of SF, wrote stories that were very much statements about race, sex, and power, and in plain sight, but like her prose, it was straightforward and unelaborate. A lot is left for the reader to infer, though none of it is very hidden. Butler writes the Oankali as very interesting aliens who are themselves imperfect - vastly more advanced and in most ways wiser than humans, but still prone to errors of judgment, as well as letting their feelings overcome their common sense. They are also weird and, as Lilith's reactions make clear, creepy, even moreso when it turns out that Oankali actually need humans for some sort of interspecies bonding future, which does in fact involve sexual contact, which is also described plainly if not graphically.

There is a lot in this first book of the Xenogenesis trilogy to find disturbing. Butler usually includes sex and power relationships in her books and they're always uncomfortable. There's also a lot to like, as the human-alien conflict rarely involves violence and never escalates to a military confrontation (humans don't even have a military any more), so you might think of it as a story akin to "The Body Snatchers" if the alien pod people were... well, individuals and not really malevolent and also not really trying to replace humanity, per se. So not much like the Body Snatchers at all, except that they elicit the same fears from humans and not completely without reason, because whatever their intentions and however sympathetic they may be, they are going to do what they're going to do regardless of how humans feel about it.

A very interesting novel, and while I found some parts a little predictable (like almost all the other humans inevitably proving violent and untrustworthy), and I might have enjoyed just a little more literary embellishment, I will probably continue the trilogy.

48 people found this helpful

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  • Dealosaurus Rex
  • 2016-03-29

High solid! My first Butler book.

This was a great story. It reminded me of another recent read: The Book of Strange New Things. Hard to believe it predates it by nearly 30 years! I'll definitely finish the trilogy.

13 people found this helpful

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  • echoes
  • 2016-03-28

Starts well, gets irritating, best read in print

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

The story is interesting, and I was hooked from the very start, but I will say as the story went on I found myself getting annoyed at the narrator's voice. Her performance is generally good, but the various character voices she does are extremely annoying, the alien voices in particular. The aliens are supposed to sound 'neutral' but she makes them (particularly one main alien character) whiny. Eventually this gets very cringeworthy to listen to, especially when the novel gets 'weirder' with alien and human relationships. I would definitely recommend reading this on paper, and would not recommend the audiobook.

The story itself is intriguing initially, although as the novel goes on, I found myself cringing more at the events, the aliens and their actions, and the way the plot was playing out. The human characters (besides Lillith, most of the time) are not particularly interesting either, although I feel that is partially the fault of the narrator (again, read this on print...it will make for a different experience I'm sure). It was at times also difficult to follow and understand, but I think that's part of it.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Ken
  • 2019-02-24

Trash

Half way through a mediocre story before it turned to shitty tentacle soft porn. Do not pay for this.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane Walter
  • 2017-02-01

Felt like a novel for teen girls

I was disappointed in just about everything in this book. The plot was full of inconsistencies, the characters were unrealistic, and their emotions and reactions gave the book a feeling of over dramatic teen angst. The narrator contributed to the feeling of a teenaged emotional roller coaster. I give this book four "Blahs".

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carolina
  • 2014-07-26

Amazing, a wonderful Sci-Fi! Super recomended

Originally published at: A Girl that Likes Books

Intelligence does aloud you to ignore the fact you dislike


First impression

When this was selected for the Sword and Laser I learned that my library only had the second book in the series. The premise seemed so unique and I really wanted to read a book by Octavia E. Buttler so I decided to get myself a copy through Audible. Now I am very happy I did since I want to be able to give it to people to listen too; I will be getting the rest of the trilogy too.

Final thoughts

The book works with the premise that human race has been almost annihilated from Earth, due to war. A few survivors have been "rescued" by an extraterrestrial species, called Oankali, who are described as being covered by tiny tentacles (I imagined their skin like an inside out version of the small intestine, but that's just me) with slight human appearance when approaching Lilith, the main character, at first. Lilith is a black woman who has been awaken several times before (she ignores how many) and she has been selected as the person who will train a new group of humans to be taken back to Earth.

This book was absolutely amazing. I was afraid I was going to have a problem with the voice given to the Oankali since a lot of people were wondering about this on the Internet, but Aldrich Barrett made a great job, at least for me. Independent of the format that you are reading this book will touch a very big question: What exactly makes us human? Is it our bodies? Is it our culture? Can one be separated of the other?

Such a unique book. It has a great main character, that not only questions her own humanity but puts into discussion how human relationships are built and their outcomes. The way she is treated by this alien race and then the way the other humans treated her for me was a questioning of the society we've grown accustomed to. It was interesting to see secondary characters that represented greed or fear to an extreme point and how this type of behaviours affected the construction of a whole new dynamic between individuals.

I liked that, for a sci-fi, it wasn't "plagued" with terminology. Sure, we have the names of the different Oankali, but doors aren't call intramural passages for example, or worst, made up words without context. All is being explained to Lilith and through her to ours and yet it all feels so alien.

Someone said that for him this book was racist and homophobic, which I feel obliged to counter here. Yes there are comments against Lilith being the leader, as she is a woman, but this comment came from another human and from my point of view, this was pout there precisely to point out how society still reacts like that with a woman on a position of power. The fact that the book has a sexist or an homophobic character, does not make the book sexist nor homophobic. The book deals with several "hard" subjects, such as race, sexism, rape just to name a few. But I think the author's intention was to start a discussion about them, show how this can appear and the consequences. I believe this book pushes a lot of buttons, but in a very good way. I have already recommended the book all over the place and can't wait to continue with the story, learn more about the Oankali and Lilith's outcome.

48 people found this helpful