Imago Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Imago

Octavia Butler's Imago, is the final book of the trilogy, which began with Dawn and was followed by Adulthood rites. In this the third and final book, the trilogy comes to a wonderfully informative and powerful conclusion.
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In Dawn the world was destroyed via a thermonuclear war, World War III, where all that remained on a deathly toxic planet were the remnants of humanity, who were destined for a short, brutal life and extinction. Saved from their fate by an alien race, the Oankali, humanity was given the possibility of a second chanc, but with a quid pro quo. However, given the human predilection for fear based upon phenotypical difference (skin color), religious difference, national allegiance, etc. the Oankali quid pro quo was, on its face, anathema to humanity. And many would chose to rebel, despite their lives being undeniably saved, as opposed to producing human/Oankali hybrids.

In Adulthood Rites the remnants of humanity, human/Oankali hybrids and the Oankali themselves are introduced to a healed and genetically modified Earth. There are plants and creatures on Earth now, that have never been a part of its historical biosphere. However, in short time, humanity reverts to its old ways and seeks to ferret out and kill all that is different. The humans allied to the Oankali, the human/Oankali hybrids and the Oankali will together abandon the Earth to its inevitable seventh extinction.

Imago presents the consummation, which was began nearly one hundred years ago, the Oankali's quid pro quo, of a fully-realized human/Oankali hybrid species, Jodahs, who are able to assume any form. They are, in fact, shape-shifters.

The Jodahs, however, not only manifest powerful healing capabilities, because of their human genetic material, they also manifest incredible destructive capabilities. It is for this reason, that the first of their kind are isolated. It is this isolation of the Jodahs, that provide dueling fates--death through isolation and abandonment or rebirth as shape-shifting healers.

As one of the isolated Jodahs wonders the forest, he comes across two human siblings, who are themselves minor miracles. It was the intention of the Oankali's to make infertile all human who would not inter-breed with them. It appears, that one human woman had fallen through the cracks.

The Jodah follows the siblings to their town, which is replete with diseased and inbred inhabitants suffering from a wide range of afflictions. Of course, Oankalis and Jodahs, in particular, are masterfully adept at curing diseases.

The story goes on to provide masterful insight into the human personality and how humanity's penchant for intolerance might be tempered, by the right ‘being.'

Reading this trilogy is a must not only for science fiction adherents, but also adherents of social psychology and interpersonal human relationships.
Best part of story, including ending: If gave a glimpse of human potential and the psycho-social reality of life on Earth.

Best scene in story: The alien human hybrid, the Jodah, interacting with and healing the inbred, diseased aliens.

Opinion about the main character: The Jodah's ability to behave more human, in a compassionate and empathic way, than the humans.

The review of this Book prepared by Kermit E. Heartsong a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Imago

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 30%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 10% Tone of book    -   sensitive (sigh....) FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Lifeform altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   Scientifically turned into another lifeform Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   champion of justice Age:    -   20's-30's If magical mental powers:    -   healing


Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Imago

Octavia Butler Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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