Fledgling by Octavia E. ButlerRead about another entry on the list.
Octavia E. Butler’s last novel, Fledgling, was also ostensibly lighter fare, at least according to the author: a vampire story. Of course it’s something more, because of Butler’s inevitable engagement with problems with gender roles, racial representation, and hierarchy. Heroine Shori Matthews spends the bulk of the book carefully constructing a polyamorous family for her own protection and nourishment. Trading sex and pleasure and improvements to their immune systems for humans’ blood, Shori takes male and female symbionts into her fold. Lots and lots of them—a mentor advises her that eight is a good number of symbionts, and that she should let any jealousies work themselves out without interference. On top of that, her species, which is called the Ina, mate with other Ina in groups, and they live communal yet sex-segregated lives. I so wish Butler had lived to write this 2005 book’s sequels.