Some authors claim to think up their stories by playing "what if." What if there were a drug that made people have orgasms by watching and starting fires AND the water supply in California dried up (this is the most realistic What If) AND all of California was like South Central Los Angeles.
If all that, then you have the scenario for this sad book. It's frightening as heck, that's for sure, but it's implausible.
It seems that Ms. Butler was possibly trying to inject some metaphysical philosophy into the book by having her protagonist, Lauren Olamina (her surname is Yoruban, so we're told), keep chanting the refrain "God is change." But as her father-figure lover, Bankole (it's Yoruban), tells her: those are only words.
I guess the idea was that in a frightful society, nobody could possibly remain a Christian, much less adhere to any other "traditional" religion.
Bankole asks at one point: "Would Jesus be Christ if he were here today?" Puleeez, don't let the Rapturists hear you talking like that!
This book will frighten, anger, and depress, and to that extent, it certainly creates emotion, if, that is, you can finish it. Don't try to read it in one sitting. Have another book with a little lighter and happier tenor on hand to alternate from time to time.
By the way, I live in South Central Los Angeles, and what Butler describes in this book is really not too far off from what we have in South Central, but without the pyromaniacs and the bad water situation, thank goodness for that. IF such a drug were invented, getting off sexually on fire-starting, then POSSIBLY Butler's scenario could become plausible.