It's been a few months since I read this, but I realized I'd not reviewed it and wanted to put in a few words.
I can't express to you how refreshing it was to read an African American female protagonist who didn't speak with urban slang, who wasn't worried about finding a man and, in general, didn't fit the tired stereotypes that a lot of modern authors (both White and Non-White) tend to force Black characters into.
Dawn starts off in an intentionally confusing and intense way. Lilith wakes up in a small room with no way out and no indication of how long she's been there. Periodically she's put to sleep, with the gut feeling that "something" is being done to her while she's out.
Eventually, she's introduced to one of her "captors." (I use quotations, because, well... it's complicated.) They'd like her to represent them and act as their go-between as they "wake up" more of Lilith's fellow humans.
I don't want to go too far into this, because while Lilith's task is basically simple... it's really not and you'll have to read the book to learn more.
I will say that Ms Butler does a fantastic job of expressing not just Lilith's ambiguity towards her task, but also her anger towards the Oankali and the humans. The tension Lilith feels is clearly mirrored by the humans until eventually things fall apart. And, even though I was expecting it (Ms Butler had successfully created a slow burn that built over the course of a couple of chapters), I was still saddened and disappointed by it.
Skip forward a bit to Adulthood Rites, and it starts to become clear just how different
the Oankali (and the new constructs) are from humans. Akin tries to find his place (ironically, the exact same problem most kids his age have) being half human, half Oankali on a planet that has been ripped apart by humans and the rebuilt into something strange and new by the Oankali. There's still tension between the humans and Oankali, and, for some reason, the Oankali decide that it's up to Akin to fix it for them.
I honestly don't remember much from this one, other than that I found Akin utterly adorable.
I don't really know how to describe Imago. Jodahs, the first neuter construct, has a hard time of it. There were moments when I just couldn't figure him/her/it out. I wasn't as captured by Jodahs as I was by Lilith and Akin. Imago, I think, was the least fulfilling of the series, but still worth the time.
It should be noted that there are numerous scenes of coerced sex throughout the series. I don't know if it can be classified as rape, but it made me uncomfortable.