Imago closes out the Lilith’s Brood trilogy, continuing and building on a lot of the general world building set out in Dawn and Adulthood Rites. This time around, we’re not directly following either Lilith or Akin, but rather Jodahs, perhaps the least human protagonist of the series–as he will be the first human/Oankali hybrid that appears to be growing up to be neither male nor female, instead growing up ooloi.
It’s a fascinating and weird point of view, especially given that he’s even more alien than the ooloi have been all along–which is saying something. With his human traits, he has even more power to literally rewrite the genes of anything he touches.
The main theme of Imago is dealing with the alien and coming to accept those different than you. There’s an expansion of Adulthood Rite’s exploration of if the Ooankali are actually the good guys after all and what it means to for humans to survive versus humanity itself.
It’s an interesting story if, as I mentioned, somewhat weird and a solid conclusion to the trilogy. I somewhat wish for an extended universe, to see the future Ooankali encountering other races, without even a vague grounding in humanity (Butler does alien well…), but it doesn’t feel critical. The story feels both wide open and finished, which is not something one often gets to say.
Overall, I think I prefer Adulthood Rites over Dawn over Imago, but they’re all solid. I think this is a series to put on my reread list. Amusingly, perhaps the shortest series on it. :D
As an aside:
Humans had evolved from hierarchical life, dominating, often killing other life. Oankali had evolved from acquisitive life, collecting and combining with other life. To kill was not simply wasteful to the Oankali. It was as unacceptable as slicing off their own healthy limbs.
It really does make me wonder if hierarchical life is actually as evil as the Ooankali claim–and what a non-hierarchical intelligent human race would even work. That’s one of the things I love about sci-fi: weird thoughts that really make you think: what if?