Adulthood Rites

Octavia E. Butler
Adulthood Rites Cover

Adulthood Rites


Adulthood Rites is the second volume of the Lilith's Brood trilogy. In the previous novel an alien species the Oankali rescued the last remaining humans after they had destroyed the Earth with war and pollution. The Oankali are a race who 'trade' genes with other species through matings involving a male and female of each species and a sexless being called an Ooloi who can select which genes to mix together to form a being with traits of both species. The Oankali have generated parts of earth and returned colonies of humans willing to trade genes with them. Lilith Iyapo is now living back on Earth with her blended family and several hybrid children including Akin, a human looking male baby, who is already very intelligent and advanced for his age. Akin is kidnapped by a group of men who refuse to be involved in the the breeding program. The Oankali have allowed such people called 'resisters' to live on Earth but have prolonged their lives, freed them of disease and sterilised them so they cannot breed. Human looking children are therefore highly prized in the mistaken belief that they may be able to breed and perpetuate the human commumities. Akin is sold to a resistar village and spend a year with them before being rescued by the Oankali.

Akin develops some sympathy for the resisters and wants the Oankali to give them a future with human children of their own. The Oankali are very resistant to this idea and believe that because of their hierarchical nature, the humans will simply destroy any future societies they are allowed to build.

This is an interesting book that fleshes out the vision the Oankali have for the remnants of the human species - those who can accept having unusual sexual bonding of alines and humans and the hybrid 'construct' children produced by such unions and those who will have no part of it but are doomed to die without being able to create a new generation. It also raises the question of what it is to be human and whether man will ever be able to quell his hierarchical and competetive instincts to live in a world without violence.