Hannah Tucker
October 19, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Having amnesia is bad enough. But after Shori Matthews comes to in the smoldering ruins of her village, she learns her family has been murdered. Worse, she’s a vampire genetically modified to survive in daylight. That fact makes her an object of fascination and prejudice among her kind, ancient Ina vampires who don’t prey on humans but live with them in a delicate, sexually charged symbiosis. That is, until death squads begin massacring entire communities. Are the attackers humans who believe they’re fighting evil? Or fellow Ina who consider Shori a genetic abomination? Octavia E. Butler crafts an unflinching parable about race, identity, and science around Shori’s quest for belonging. While the supporting characters are underdeveloped, Fledgling is a layered family saga that embraces the bloodthirsty basics of a vampire thriller.

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