clay’s ark is the last book in octavia butler’s patternist series, yet it is the beginning of the story. clay’s ark tells how the mutations in the human race started, leading to the complex race and power struggles that evolve in the series. the book is too short, the plot never takes shape, and you never get a good feel for the characters. character development is usually one of octavia’s strenghts. the ending also seems abrupt, almost like there really wasn’t one, the story basically just stops. clay’s ark is a good compliment to the series, it clears up some of the backstory, but is not essential.