Alex Watkins'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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Jan 19, 09

bookshelves: young-adult, historical-fiction, 2009
Recommended for: non crazy-racists, crazy racists so that they learn
Read in January, 2009

I was totally surprised by this book, having seen it about a million times at the library, and seeing it never get picked up no matter how much I put it on display, I didn't have that much interest in it. But it has a power that I completely didn't expect. It riled many emotion for me especially anger, and the book left me very angry at people in the past for being so fricken racist. Yay for the present. The book is written from the point of view mostly of an extremely erudite slave, and so the vocab was especially high-level. In fact this book is written at a higher level than many adult books, so even though I included it in the YA category and so does the library, only the most sat prepared teens should read this without a dictionary/laptop trained to dictionary.com. This book contains one of the most loathsome characters in literature by the end I hated him so much that I was hoping for the most terrible and awful comeuppance but spoiler alert it was not to be. I also found the historical part to be quite interesting, and I suggest reading the bit after the end about some of the history, because for example some things in the book are historically accurate rumors but not actual fact. I'm not sure how I feel about the author's use of blacking out much text, I feel it might have been a cop out instead of actually writing about the characters bad emotional state, maybe some blacking out so that it would not consume a large part of the book, but a little more investigation then was present. In terms of historical fiction about the revolutionary war this is like one million times better than johnny tremaine (is that even about the revolutionary war? I'm not sure because it was so boring)
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message 1: by Cameron (last edited Sep 16, 2013 07:01PM) (new) - added it

Cameron Nunez I couldn't agree with you more! I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the past especially the history of slavery. In this book, I was able to experience life in the 18th century through the eyes of Octavian. Being the test subject of the "white man", Octavian goes through many things from constantly being watched and observed to having to weigh his own feces for experimentation. One of the most heart-wrenching parts of the book is his breakdown from the death of his mother, who was killed in result of an experiment testing the affects of chicken pox on Africans compared to Europeans. She was the only person he truly had an emotionally connection with and loved more than anything, displayed through his actions and emotions. The vocabulary of this book was indeed challenging but it showed how intelligent he really was. The Revolutionary War also had a very interesting effect in the story in the fact that it occurred around the time when he started losing his mind, kind of emphasizing the chaos and madness happening during this period of his life. Great book!


message 2: by Miller (new) - added it

Miller Payton Oh, I've been wanting to read this book! I'll put it on my list.


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