Dave's Reviews > Kindred

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
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's review
Jul 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012, library-book
Read in July, 2012

I've started trying to begin books without reading anything about them--dust jacket, introduction, wikipedia article. I'm glad that's the case, because I don't think this book's premise (women pulled back to antebellum South to watch over and suffer with her ancestors, both slave and free) would have appealed to me. With a premise like that, there's so much potential for superficial emotion, grandstanding, or just plain bad writing disguised as morality tale.

Luckily, Octavia Butler's Kindred is none of those things. The emotion, action, and world crafted by Butler as subtle and complex. The sci-fi elements blended nicely with the historical fiction as Butler pushed the conventions of the sci-fi genre in a direction that could reclaim some of the luster lost over the past decades.

Butler's antebellum South isn't unremittingly cruel like some more recent looks back at slavery, particularly those by Caribbean and Latin American authors. But it takes the trappings of a romanticized South (a master who cares for [some of his] slaves, who notices the human pain of slavery but is a creature of his time, whose plantation really is in striking distance of "freedom") and injects the realities of terror, injustice, violence, and sickness into even this more benign vision of African slavery.
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