Tara Smalley'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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Dec 09, 09

bookshelves: ya-lit

I LOVE this book! I got absolutely engrossed in it. However, I am finding it really hard to describe - both the story and style are unusual. It is a very complex story set in the Revolutionary era. Octavian is a black child. He has a pretty comfortable life - he has had an excellent education, nice clothes and good food. However, although it takes a while for the realization to occur to him, Octavian is a slave. The people who are housing and clothing him are doing so in order to conduct experiments on him. These experiments are aimed at determining the intellectual ability of Africans. Evenually, Octavian escapes....
I think this would be an excellent book to teach to high school studetns. It deals with huge themes of racism, revolution, human rights, etc. I do think it would be a challenging read for some students though. The language is not easy. It is written in the style of the 1700' s and incorporates other genres - scientific papers, letters, etc. I question the book's categorization is a YA book though. I think this is a book adults would enjoy just as much, if not more,than young adults. The book won The National Book Award and was a Michael A. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Honor Book.
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