Prior to reading Kindred, I'd read The Fledgling, Butler's last book. While I didn't have the same issues most people had with the Fledgling, it wasn'Prior to reading Kindred, I'd read The Fledgling, Butler's last book. While I didn't have the same issues most people had with the Fledgling, it wasn't my favorite book. That said, I liked Butler's clean writing style and looked forward to reading more of Butler.
Well, Kindred is amazing. It takes a modern (from the 1970's) black woman and transports her back to the antebellum American south. I'll admit that upon hearing the premise to this book, I wasn't super excited for it, but I really got into it.
Butler does a superb job at presenting the morally sickening issues of the antebellum south in a rational, even-handed way. In no way did I feel Butler was blaming, or trying to cause her non-black readers to feel responsible for the actions of people from 100 + years ago.
That said, I don't think she whitewashed the issues either. There were plenty of times I was cringing and sickened at what was happening in the book/at what happened repeatedly prior to the American Civil War. What I loved though, was just how methodical and smart her main character, Dana, is. While not impervious to the emotional toll that being repeatedly forced to live as a slave is taking to her, Dana focuses on what she can control, and attacks the issues with reason and logic.
I love that in characters, particularly in female characters.
Dana's husband, Kevin, in my mind, is a true indicator of Butler's genius. Kevin is white. Butler has a multi-racial marriage happening in the 1970's, which I'm guessing might have made waves then? The point is, having a main white character who the reader is sympathetic to, helps Butler relate to more readers.
No one wants to spend their free time reading a book that demonizes what they are, especially if whatever is being demonized is genetic, aka something they cannot change. One of the flaws I see in a lot of equality movements (be those about race, sex, sexual orientation, etc.) is the side that is working for equality will sometimes start to demonize those whom they see as their oppressors. (White males, anyone?) While I'm not advocating for oppression, often, such a tactic doesn't help anyone. It causes people, people who are in power and who could be allies to said movement to distance themselves because they don't like feeling like they are bad simply because they are what they are.
Now I know you can flip that coin and say that oppressors always make the oppressed feel bad, to put it nicely, but the point is, we aren't going to build a better world if we can't get along with people whose ancestors once were bad to our ancestors.
Which brings me to Kevin, Dana's husband. He is the guide for Bulter's white readers. Despite being white, we as readers like him! He is all about protecting Dana. Yes, he's got some issues after being left in the 1800's for several years, but that makes him human. Kevin's character shows just how skewed the power dynamic was for blacks and whites during the antebellum years, yet Butler never blames him or makes him a bad guy. As a white reader, I greatly appreciated this. I was able to read Kindred and take from it a new understanding of how terrible that time period was, rather than feel like I read 300 + pages about how bad all white people are.
That may not seem like that big of a feat, but I think it is. The fact that Butler was able write a novel about such a charged time in history, and not alienate the ancestors of the people who perpetrated the atrocities, is monumental. I took several English classes in college that focused on non-white authors, and often said authors wrote books that were vehemently anti-white (or if they weren't, my professors' interpretation of their writing was). Unfortunately, for a long time after college, I avoided any books that touched on race issues because I hated how I felt when I read them. Now, I realize that said college selections were chosen by people who felt certain ways and not all books about race are like what I was exposed to then. I can't imagine what my college experience would have been like had I been reading writers like Bulter. I think all school kids should read this book.
I can't recommend this book enough. It's well deserving of the Hugo and Nebula it won. ...more
I read Graceling due to a recommendation from a friend. I'm not a huge YA person, but I tend to like what I do read.
Graceling started a bit slow and wI read Graceling due to a recommendation from a friend. I'm not a huge YA person, but I tend to like what I do read.
Graceling started a bit slow and wandery for me, but once the story got going, I got into it. I liked how the characters discover more about their graces as the story goes on. I also liked Katsa, although there seems to be a lot of people out there who hate her because she is tough and doesn't like dresses. Apparently such things are no longer in vogue. That was so Hunger Games. I didn't find the strong female character to be a stereotypical slap to feminism's proverbial face, but I could be alone in that. As I see it, It takes all kinds to make a world, and there are some tough non-girly girls out there.
I haven't picked up any of the companion novels, mostly because I get the feeling they don't involve Katsa or Po, and I was pretty into the thing they had going by the end. The thought of reading more novels about their world, but sans them, made me a bit sad.
I'd say this is a pretty engaging, easy to read novel. It didn't make me think a ton, but it was entertaining, and different. If you're into, gasp, strong female characters, maybe you'll like this, but bear in mind, she doesn't like dresses, and she doesn't want kids.