A little brown girl wakes up in a cave - hurt, confused, literally starving out of her mind. She devours any living thing unlucky enough to be near her until she heals, and then she meets Wright. Neither of them understand what draws them so inescapably to each other, but they give in to it, realizing together that the girl, Renee until further notice, is some kind of vampire. Together they fall into all that entails, searching for her lost family, trying to figure out just exactly what Renee's needs and abilities are, and how Wright fits in that. Then her father shows up, and...it gets interesting from there...Fledgling is a 2005 science fiction vampire novel by Octavia Butler, lauded at the time as a fresh take on the genre. As per her signature style, Butler takes a close look at the little Unfortunate Implications of the relationship between Ina, humans, and the little living revolution named Shori.Note that the title Fledgling was also used for a 2009 Liaden Universe novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
Tropes contained in this novel include:
- Ancient Astronauts: Some younger Ina believe this about their race, the end game being rediscovering interstellar travel and returning home.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Shori prefers to avoid unnecessary harm, but mess with her family and see what happens.
- Blatant Lies: These get tossed around the Council like hot potatoes. The guilty expect their friends to protect them from judgement.
- Bookends: After waking from serious injury, Shori very nearly eats someone just like she did in the beginning.
- Fantastic Racism: Many Ina consider humans lesser beings. The fact that Shori's human DNA not only doesn't dampen her Ina strength and agility, but her melanin makes her more resistant to the sun than any other Ina. One Ina even points out that among humans in America, Blacks get the short stick from Whites.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Even the meanest, most bigoted Ina will instinctively protect their human symbionts. The staggering pain from loss of a symbiont is universal; some Ina even resent it. It would take an extreme act of will for an Ina to harm their own symbiont.
- Little Miss Badass: Shori isn't as strong as an adult Ina, but she's a hell of a lot stronger than you.
- Living Lie Detector: Ina, instinctively, especially the older ones.
- Manipulative Bastard: One Ina is infamous for teaching his symbionts to sow dissent among other humans wherever they go, even when he visits other Ina. He apparently gets off on it. Some Ina in general do not treat humans like people at all.
- Really 700 Years Old: 52-year old Shori looks like an adolescent, further confusing since she lost all her memories and is unsure how to act like an Ina adult. Ina in general age very slowly, not reaching sexual maturity until around their 60's, and living for around 500 years. Symbiont humans can live up to 200.
- The Symbiote: The human symbionts.
- Vampire Tropes: Oh boy, here we go...
- Dhampyr: Of a sort. Shori is genetically engineered with Black human DNA. The melanin allows her to withstand the sun, and it's probably why someone's trying to kill her and all her family.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Ina in general are not the murderers humans in general assume they are. But they're every bit as diverse as humans, so while many of them are decent people, some of them are Manipulative Bastard world champs.
- Hemo Erotic: To the extent that most if not all Ina, like Shori, can't be sexually satisfied without it.
- Kiss of the Vampire: Damn, it feels good. After a few bites, humans become irreversibly addicted. Withdrawal is a terrifying ordeal and ends in death if other Ina cannot claim them in time.
- Our Vampires Are Different: They carry a venom that is addicting to humans and each other, prefer a symbiotic relationship with humans as opposed to just killing them wholesale, and make their symbionts tougher, more resilient, and longer-lived. They're still incredibly fast and strong, and must eat flesh if badly injured, to the point they may go literally mad with hunger and fail to distinguish friend from food. Also, they are an entirely different species and thus cannot turn or mate with humans. But they can certainly make the sexy-time.
- Vampires Are Rich: The Ina have used their long lives, connections to ancient royalty, and symbionts to amass fortunes, though none of them seem to be particularly ambitious.
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: Even the little ones.
- Weakened by the Light: The point of Shori's birth is to soften this in future generations.