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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly alien - and yet human.
Imago is the sequel to "Dawn" and "Adulthood Rites", though in no way concluding. It tells the story of another of Liliths children, Jodahs, set roughly 50 years after "Adulthood Rites". Jodahs is truly alien, and yet its humanity makes it alien to the aliens, too. While Jodahs (and its companions)struggles to find its own identity, which is...
Published on 5 Aug. 2002 by shani76

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3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
The final of the 'Lilith's Brood' trilogy follows the experience of another of Lilith's children, this time one who becomes the first to metamorphose into the third gender. 'It' also takes on a human appearance which enables it to be more acceptable to the rebel humans and so more able to create a genuine willing amalgamation of Oankali and human.

I felt that...
Published 8 months ago by Ms Louise Wilford


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly alien - and yet human., 5 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Imago (Hardcover)
Imago is the sequel to "Dawn" and "Adulthood Rites", though in no way concluding. It tells the story of another of Liliths children, Jodahs, set roughly 50 years after "Adulthood Rites". Jodahs is truly alien, and yet its humanity makes it alien to the aliens, too. While Jodahs (and its companions)struggles to find its own identity, which is not exactly hybrid, as in, part alien and part human, but something new and beyond the duality of human/alien, Octavia Butler lets us, the readers, struggle with the concept of a gender that is beyond the duality of male/female. What raises "Imago" above most other stories of third genders is that by the end of the book it feels like the way it should be, most natural, nothing exotic about it anymore. It becomes human. Or rather, it is beyond classification as human or alien.
Way further developed than any ideas of cyborgs or other hybrids I've read so far, "Imago" doesn't stand between boundaries or break them up, because in "Imago" the boundaries cease to exist.
This superbly worked out philosophical background helps over the dissappointment of very little reference to Lilith, Tino, Nikanj, Akin, and other characters of the first two books. If you've read and enjoyed them, read "Imago" too. It's part of "Lilith's Brood", if you can't get it as a single book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly good sci-fi, 14 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Imago (Lilith's Brood - Book Three) (Kindle Edition)
Imago is the third and final volume in Octavia E. Butler's Lilith's Brood trilogy, and if I'm being honest I'm not entirely sure whether or not to say it's my favourite of the three. On the one hand I found it to be an excellent read, but once I'd finished it I couldn't help but feel a little disturbed by some of the concepts raised by the story.

For those who aren't familiar with this trilogy, it essentially follows three individual members of a single family, consisting of the matriarch (the character Lilith of the series title) and two of her offspring, both of who are the result of a form of interbreeding between Lilith and her alien lovers/mentors/captors.

The first book tells the story of Lilith, and how she found herself under the care of the alien Oankali following a catastrophic war on Earth, while the second book tells the story of her son, the first human/Oankali male born of the union. Both of these books did an excellent job of introducing the Oankali to the reader, and also of showing the way in which the Oankali effectively manipulate and control their human charges. What makes this particularly acceptable to the reader, especially in he second book, is that way in which Butler presents the alien point of view so sympathetically, making it as clear as possible that the Oankali want nothing more than to help humanity, while at the same time making it just as clear that by the time they've finished with their work humanity will no longer exist.

With book three we are introduced to a second human/alien offspring, Lilith's child Jodahs, who is introduced as the first construct (cross-bred) ooloi. Within Oankali society, the ooloi are a third gender, best described as a gender neutral bridge between male and female. They take on the role of progenitors within an Oankali family, effectively mixing genetic material from their male and female mates to create and birth a new child. They also have an innate ability for analysing and modifying the genetic structure of any organic matter they come into contact with, to the degree that they can actually create new life in any form they have previously experienced simply by modifying and releasing their own cells. This also makes them excellent healers, and in the case of the main character also gives it (Butler's choice of pronoun) the ability to change its shape and appearance quite extensively.

As the first human/Oankali ooloi, Jodahs is seen as potentially very dangerous; its lack of control over its own body suggests that it may inadvertently create a catastrophic disease within Earth's ecosphere, or possibly cause unintentional harm to those around it. A consensus is reached for Jodahs to stay with its family, under close observation of its Oankali ooloi parent, but when a second human/Oankali child (Jodahs' closest sibling, Aaor) also begins to transform into an ooloi, a new course of action is decided. In an effort to limit the possible damage Jodahs may cause, it and a large portion of its family go into semi-voluntary exile, eventually leading Jodahs to an encounter with two genetically deformed human siblings who it bonds with and forms a family. This then leads to Aaor becoming consumed with a need for mates of its own, which in turn (after a few misadventures) leads to the two ooloi setting up a new colony of their own, and a rosy outlook for human/Oankali development in the future.

While I admit that Butler's writing style is remarkably readable, and her ability to put across the mindset of both the utterly alien Oankali and the human/Oankali constructs, there's a number of things in this (and to some degree the previous two books) that I found just a little disturbing. And I'm not talking about the cross-species mating or the casual use of sibling incest, as both of these concepts are explored incredibly proficiently from the alien mindset and therefore do not carry the same sense of taboo they might if viewed through human eyes. In fact, the thing that disturbed me the most was the ease with which the Oankali are able to manipulate humanity (or a certain portion of humanity, at least). From a purely human-centric point of view what the Oankali are doing and what they have planned is far from the right thing to do, but by explaining it primarily from the viewpoint of the Oankali-centric characters Butler very skilfully makes their actions and plans not only the correct course of action, but also undeniably acceptable. I only wish I could write with half the skill exhibited in the this series.

To finish off, I found this and the previous two books incredibly emotionally challenging, but also incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable. If you like your sci-fi to leave you with a lot to think about, if you like sci-fi that challenges you in any way, then I would definitely suggest reading the entire trilogy. However, if you like your sci-fi simple and full of space battles then I'd say steer clear of this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely first rate scifi, 10 Aug. 2011
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rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Imago: Xenogenesis III (Paperback)
How does Butler do it? Her novels get better as the series advances! Usually, they degenerate, like movies sequels, where you get more of the same as the auteur tries to milk it (Remember that sorry Planet of the Apes?).

This is the story of the emergence of the third human sex, an ooloi, the product of genetic mixing with an alien species that has taken over the Earth, saving it from destruction at man's hands. The ooloi is an extremely dangerous development, a catalyst for genetic manipulation who if undisciplined threatens to create plagues and disrupt entire ecosystems. In appearance female, the ooloi is extremely seductive and becomes a peacemaker with the human resistance to the aliens, almost a saint. As weird as it sounds, it is completely believable and fabulously written.

Butler develops her vision and concepts, leaving the reader with a feeling of wonder at the universe. Only the best novelists do this: her talent goes far far beyond the confines of the sci fi genre. Indeed, I wonder if she is not revitalising the novel as a form of art, pointing new directions. She deserved her MacArthur prize.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 12 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Imago (Lilith's Brood - Book Three) (Kindle Edition)
The final of the 'Lilith's Brood' trilogy follows the experience of another of Lilith's children, this time one who becomes the first to metamorphose into the third gender. 'It' also takes on a human appearance which enables it to be more acceptable to the rebel humans and so more able to create a genuine willing amalgamation of Oankali and human.

I felt that the three books in the trilogy could have been shorter, and there was what felt like repetition. I actually began to feel the human repulsion towards the Oankali as the novels progressed, losing my initially more sympathetic view of them, and I think this was because I found the characters increasingly less convincing. The ending of the trilogy seems to me too neat and even trite. I think there are a great number of excellent things about these books and I would recommend Octavia Butler as a writer, but I was disappointed overall with this trilogy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, 3 May 2014
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This review is from: Imago (Lilith's Brood - Book Three) (Kindle Edition)
I loved these three books. I'm not an Avis sci-fi reader but really enjoy reading visions of alien cultures and this series was rich and imaginative in that regard. Stimulating and enjoyable. What more can you ask for from this type of novel?
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