Most helpful critical review
A great book, unless compared with Butler's others
on June 6, 2003
Compared to most other SF novels, Clay's Ark could be considered a great book. However, compared to other books by Butler, it falls short. Not because of craft. The book's pacing and plotting are near perfect; there are no wasted words. But while, it is extremely readable, the book suffers in it's characterisations. Here is where my initial remark comes into play. Compared to most SF, characters like Blake are extremely interesting, but compared to the characters Butler creates in her other Patternist novels 'Wild Seed' and 'Mind of my mind'.
The moral dilemmas facing the main characters are not as balanced as in Butler's other work. The survival instinct of the alien virus is so strong, that the characters are partially excused for their actions. In addition, the story builds magnificently, but wraps up abruptly.
Bottom line -- if you have never read an Octavia Butler novel start with 'Wild Seed' or 'Kindred', but if you are already a fan, there is enough in this book to make it enjoyable.