My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers and continue on at your own risk!
This is Book 2 in the Patternist series – even though this series was not published in order (thanks to a commenter for bringing this to my attention), it was also the second book published. The first book (chronologically)- Wild Seed, was like the first few minutes of a great roller coaster- those minutes where you inch towards the top of the first hill. There was a lot of anticipation, but not a lot of action- it serves as a set up for the rest of the ride. Mind of My Mind was the wild ride after the initial climb. It was everything I expected an Octavia Butler novel to be, here’s what I thought…
Doro, an ancient demon/alien/super human, is still on his mission to create a superior race that he can lead. His problem is that his ‘active’ telepaths can’t stand to be near each other. After thousands of years of breeding, he finally creates Mary. Mary is special because she can create a ‘pattern’, this is a mental link to all the other active telepaths. Once the actives are apart of the pattern, they desire to be close to each other. Doro, who is not a telepath himself, is on the outside of this pattern. This story is about Mary’s journey as she builds her pattern.
Plot Score: 4/5
Location, Location, Location
The location is 20th century USA. Once the telepaths join Mary’s pattern, they want to be close to each other. They have taken over a suburb of LA- Forsyth. The telepaths can make slaves of the ‘norms’, and that is how they take over the houses in the local area and the closest private school. Forsyth is a nice suburb, while several of of the ‘latents’ (people who have potential to be an ‘active’ telepath) live in squalor. As Mary pulls them into her pattern and activates them, they are able to have better lives.
Location Score: 3/5
Characters and Relationships
Doro- Doro takes more of a back seat in this story, he still pulls the strings, but gives the group enough room that they overtake him. We do find out more about his beginnings, and how he initially brought these ‘special’ people together because they were more pleasurable to take over. It was interesting to know that early trauma may have kept Doro from being a patternmaster like Mary.
Mary- I’m going to call her the patternmaster (although there is a later book with this title, so she may not be The One), she pulls in active telepaths and she has power over them- similar to the power that Doro has, but Doro never got to mature into the power that Mary has.
When Mary first becomes patternmaster, she starts with a few active telepaths: Karl (her husband- an arrangement by Doro), Ada Dragan (who is forgettable), Seth Dana (who comes with his brother Clay, a latent), Rachel Davidson (who has the ability to control other people’s bodies), Jesse Bernarr and Jan Sholto. Most of the group resents her power, but once they let go of that, they realize that being a part of the pattern is beneficial. The book takes a leap of two years, and the group grows to over 1,500 and the core group really grew into a family.
Emma (Anyanwu)- Man, she punked out in this story. I was excited when Doro takes Mary to live with her, because Emma always seemed so supportive of her family. She became a cranky old lady and never became close to Mary. She goes as far to suggest to Doro that he needs to kill her because she has too much power. I never thought I’d hear Mary suggest that- especially since Mary’s people seem to be doing good. I guess we get a fitting end for this new ‘Emma’, because she just dies shortly after Doro. It was the closing of the Anyanwu/Doro story and the beginning of something new with Mary.
Characters Score: 4/5
Life Lessons (fka Bigger Meaning)
Race- Mary said the following to Doro: “You mean you don’t want to admit you have anything in common with us. But you were born black, you are black. Still black, no matter what color you take on” This is interesting- because I felt where Mary was coming from when she said this, but I think Doro was beyond race. He was some type of immortal being on a level where race had no consequence. The new minority is the non-telepaths (and Emma calls this out “…if you don’t think they look down on us non-telepaths, us niggers, the whole rest of humanity, you’re not paying attention.”)
Family- It seems important to have a caring family, the actives are better when they are a part of a pattern and can be around other people. This is clearly highlighted with the stark differences of personalities of the initial six, who started out ready to kill Mary, and just two years later, they were all willing to die for her. Doro, who had childhood trauma, was never able to fully realize who he was as a person.
Bigger Meaning Score: 4/5
I enjoy the writing style of these stories. It’s rare that you read a fantasy novel that contains such a statement on society- without being overly preachy (hint hint Orson Scott Card). This book was a “blink and you’re done” read, and to go back to my roller coaster analogy, its one of those rides, where you are immediately ready to get back on as soon as you finish.
Style Score: 4/5
-What the heck happened to Anyanwu? Perhaps Octavia Butler wrote Wild Seed to redeem her a bit, because this crusty old lady reminded me of Sam Jackson’s character in Django Unchained (she was all up Doro’s butt). Definitely not the preserver of life she is in Wild Seed.
-Did you think Doro was going to survive longer than he did?
-These books beautiful, because they are so easy to read, yet there are layers upon layers of meaning and no single review / analysis could do justice to the beautiful complexity that Octavia Butler’s writings contain. I should probably spend more time reviewing this one…but Peter V. Brett’s new book came out and I need to finish 2 reviews so I can be completely swept away….
19/25- definately worth the time to read