A gothic tale becomes all too shockingly real in this mesmerizing magnum opus by the acclaimed author of FEED.
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only
I cannot in good conscience recommend this title, unless the pote ...more
Octavian Nothing deserves an audience built of those who are thoughtful, empathetic human beings. And this is not the typical and immediate description by which one would first describe teenagers. Certainly there are exceptions, but those are young adults whom we wo ...more
Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (2007)
2007 Printz Honor
I read this book in early February of this year, but have been too timid to review it. Now, with my review of The Obama Revolution by Alan Schaffer-Kennedy being posted tomorrow, I thought it was a good time to throw my two cents into the dialogue of race and literature.
The first volume of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is the story of a young boy in 1760s Boston. He ...more
I finally finished this on audiobook. I was wondering if I would have enjoyed this more if I had read it, but I don't think I would have. I think that it didn't help that this was an audiobook, and one of my complaints about the book is that it goes on and on incessantly about crap that doesn't really do anything for the plot or the enhancement of the characters. And the over-the-top period language drove me crazy by the end. I would have liked it better if all of the third person narration part ...more
“They told me of substance and form; they told me of matter, of its consistency as a fluxion of minute, swarming atomies, as Democritus had writ; they told me of shape and essence; they told me of the motion of light, that it was the ...more
Okay, for those of you have read M.T. Anderson's OTHER fabulous book Feed, Octavian Nothing proves to be very interesting on a thematic comparison level. Feed is, of course, set in the distant future and depicts a very Brave New World-ish, anti-utopian warning about where we're going as a culture (and it ain't pretty, folks). Octavian Nothing, on the other hand, is set in New England during America's Revolutionary War. Both books are written in the style and vocabulary of the thoughts of its pro ...more
Octavian is an African prince, who lives in Colonial Boston at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Dressed in silks, educated and pampered by strange scientists who care for him and his mother, Octavian seems to lack for nothing. Until he discovers that there is one thing denied him—his freedom.
This amazing and unique story begins as an allegorical fable of the Enlightenment and conclud ...more
I was touched and outraged throughout all of Octavian's actual memoirs, but I thought ...more
I pretty much dismiss the entire YA genre. I've tried Twilight, and all the paranormal crap like Beautiful Creatures, Cassandra Clare's dreck etc just do not interest me. The books that deal with teenage problems ... I'm an adult, I certainly don't want to relive it.
But what I am is a historical fiction junkie. Put a story in another era and it immediately becomes more interesting (perhaps not GOOD, but ...more
The book's structure captivate me from the very start, as the title page and chapter headings so beautiful recreate the style and form of eighteenth-century American pamphlets. ...more
"By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Zion. On the willows there, we hung up our harps, for they that carried us away captive required of us songs, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How can w ...more
It is also so fucking painful I could barely get through it.
The reality of Octavian’s situation—as slave, as experiment—is so brutal that I had to force myself to keep re ...more
This was the first fictional slave narrative that I've really enjoyed in quite some time. Most historical fictions pre-dating the Emancipation Proclomation tend to go over the same old ground and are really just an excuse for a publisher to update their catalog with a new product. This book: totally and completely differ ...more
To call this well-researched is a major understatement. I've been simultaneously (and c ...more
I also felt a little drudgery when the pro-slavery people were elaborating on why their position was what it was. I was bored, and felt a little like "That argument again?!" (it's worth noting that this book is marketed as YA and such may be the first time kids are hearing these persp ...more
His picture books include Handel Who Knew What He Liked; Strange Mr. Satie; The Serpent Came to Gloucester; and Me, All Alone, at the End of the World. He has written such young adult books as Thirsty, Burger Wuss, Feed, The ...more
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And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me.”