Linda's Reviews > The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol I: The Pox Party

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nati... by M.T. Anderson
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Apr 04, 08

bookshelves: ya
Read in April, 2008

Friends, it would be difficult to overstate my vexation upon the finishing of this allegedly excellent tome. In an effort to emulate Mr. Sharp, I shall essay to enumerate the difficulties that beset me during those long days in which I did traverse the pages of the manuscript. A) My head ached in a most alarming fashion. B) A strange desire to hurl myself off a bridge, or some such other edifice of sufficient moment, possessed me.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this title, unless the potential reader be A) rendered nearly insensate by ennui, B) eager to witness the slaughter of hundreds of domestic beasts, or C) in dire need of disabuse of the notion that the worship of profit above all else is one worth emulating.

Begging your indulgence for an opinion contrary to the gentlemen and ladies who hand out plaudits for writings of this sort, I remain your humble servant, kmg365.
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Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Have I told you lately how awesome you are and that I miss your wit!


message 2: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Dang, I almost bought this book. Glad now I didn't. Guess I'll pass on this one.


Julia I disagree completely with your opinion of this book, but adore how you expressed that opinion. Kudos!!!


Kimberly I, too, love the incredible semantic choices you made when writing your review. I also agree with your point that the merits of this book have been vastly overstated. While I do not feel as strongly as you do (I would probably rate the book two or three stars), I can say that I was disappointed with the story and would probably not recommend that others read it.


Daniel Wow. I think your review is funny, but disagree completely. To anyone who reads this: please do not ignore this book based on this review. Pick it up and make up your own mind.

To Dawn: try the library. It's a great way to read books without having to buy them (should you one day be "rendered nearly insensate by ennui" that you would deign to pick it up).


Steve I wholeheartedly endorse every sentence of Daniel's here, except for the stuff in parentheses, which detracts.


Tyler Actually, I gave it five stars, but your channeling of Mr. Sharp is impressive!

I'd like to see more novel reviews written in the voice of their characters....


message 8: by h (new) - rated it 4 stars

h Well put, erudite stranger. Mayhaps you had listened aloud rather than with thine eyes to this worthy tome, thou wouldst have appreciated the language so richly declaimed.


message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara Fantastic.


message 10: by Jonathon (new) - added it

Jonathon Arntson Okay, clearly this will not be nearly as eloquent, but I decided to look at the reviews and see if I am the only dumbass who has had a hard time reading this book. Granted, I am only on page thirty, but I have had to reprocess my brain to get a handle on the diction Sharp uses. And while this is not usually a bad thing, I found myself with an intense headache this morning and I was hoping to come on here and find someone saying, "I don't get it either". Instead, I come across this fantastically written review, that tells me the book does not meet the hype surrounding it. Okay, I have had that happen a lot, but I usually understand the book. Well, I just don't get it and I feel like an idiot, an idiot that I am always making fun of. Ugh, this book is toying with my mind and I fear I am at the point of abandonment... Please advise, regarding the diction, if you have a suggestion. If I wanted historical jibberish, I'd have grabbed Huck Finn or The Sound and the Fury.


message 11: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Jonathon wrote: "Okay, clearly this will not be nearly as eloquent, but I decided to look at the reviews and see if I am the only dumbass who has had a hard time reading this book. Granted, I am only on page thirt..."

I feel your pain, Jonathon. :-) The only reason I was able to finish the book was that I listened to the audio version. The language is much easier to process that way, I think. If you stick with the print version, give yourself another fifty pages or so (barely a dent in this doorstop of a book). It always takes me at least 50 pages to acclimate to period speech, even with titles I enjoyed (like Huck Finn, and The Sound and the Fury). Good luck!




message 12: by Jonathon (new) - added it

Jonathon Arntson Much appreciated, I will definitely oblige.


message 13: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara HA HA HA! While I adored this book, I love your review! Thank you for sharing!


message 14: by MeganEileen (new)

MeganEileen LOL! I completely agree with your review. I'm an English teacher, so I don't mind books written in a higher tone, and I didn't find this book "hard to process" at all.

I just found it extremely pretentious and dull. I decided not to finish, and moved on to something better.


babyhippoface This review is brilliant. And I couldn't agree with it more.


Hillary DePiano I just wanted to say that I felt 100% the same way for the first half of the book and was completely ready to give up on it (which I never do, I always stubbornly finish books no matter what) but I have to say that once the book started switching perspectives after the Pox Party I thought it got MUCH better, enough that I will read the sequel to see what happens.

But your review was hilarious in how it mimicked the style and I tip my hat to you. :-)


message 17: by Noah (new)

Noah i am reading this book for, school, so far , i am not impressed. Even though it is a little difficult to understand, since im only in the 8th grade, but i am still baffled by the vocabulary in this book that i dont even know where to start on my responses to it? help!


message 18: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Tell your teacher that torture was outlawed in 8th grade *years* ago. :-) On second thought, don't do that. I'm guessing he/she wouldn't see the humor.

If you've already read fifty pages or so, and you still haven't gotten used to the old-fashioned speech patterns, I highly recommend trying to get the book on audio. (Try your local public library first.)

There's something about listening to archaic speech that makes it easier to understand. Frequently, you can use the reader's voice to get the context, even if you don't understand every word. I discovered this trick when I was 15 and trying to understand Shakespeare: watching a play performed was much easier to understand than reading it.

Don't give up on the book-- there's a lot of adventure and mystery in there buried under all that fancy language. Good luck!


Stephanie While I love the style of your review, I must disagree. The tale is similar in message to Resurrection Men by TK Welsh, although his story takes place an ocean away and 100 years later. I would even say that those who loved a Series of Unfortunate Events would also be fascinated by the tale. It's not a happy story, but it is a beautiful one.


Michael Kneeland I'm a bit perturbed that your criticism of this novel centers on its language. When did difficult and complex language become a flaw? Its intriguing narrative is enhanced, not diminished, by Anderson's prose. It is, after all, supposed to be a stylized 18th century Gothic novel. I think it was daring for Anderson to market this as a YA novel; as a middle school English teacher, it is my experience that kids will read and love most difficult literature, provided they are taught to savor the language and not worry so much about comprehending every detail: love the language first; love the narrative second.

That said, I too love your review, as much as I disagree with it. A little satire goes a long way! :)


message 21: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Hi Michael-- thanks for the “like”. I rate books on the basis of whether or not I personally enjoyed them, not whether or not I think they're suitable for a particular curriculum. (I am a librarian, and I know plenty of librarians who rate books as professionals. However, I love reading more than I love my patrons, and rate only for me.) I think Anderson erected a huge barrier for many readers by sticking so slavishly to the period language, and I was a little bemused by the professional reviews that raved about the language, as though simply maintaining period speech for a few hundred pages made it a masterpiece. I found both the plot and the characterization not to my personal taste. I can check out mounds of series romances to people all day long without rolling my eyes, though, so it's fine with me if other people think this is a really good book. :-)


Synesthesia (SPIDERS!) I disagree, but i must give you a like for creativity.


message 23: by Nakita (new) - added it

Nakita Linda, put down the thesaurus and slowly back away.


message 24: by Florida (new) - added it

Florida Daydreaming Can you tell me in plain English why I didn't like this book?


message 25: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Chrissy wrote: "Can you tell me in plain English why I didn't like this book?"

Hahaha! No, Chrissy, I can only tell why *I* didn't. (I explained it pretty thoroughly in the previous comments.)


Memizuki To Chrissy, that made me laugh. Secondly, do you all think this book was so acclaimed because of the subject of slavery? I didn't think it was that great, it wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great.


message 27: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Fetters Wow! You said absolutely nothing about the story. I'm clueless as to this book which I hold in my hand. I forgive you as I look for a more articulate reviewer. Thanks for trying though.


message 28: by Linda (new) - rated it 1 star

Linda Sabrina wrote: "Wow! You said absolutely nothing about the story. I'm clueless as to this book which I hold in my hand. I forgive you as I look for a more articulate reviewer. Thanks for trying though."

So sorry to have failed you, Sabrina. Happy trails.


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