Bucket's Reviews > Kindred

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
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This is a book that is important in many ways. It tells an important story, with complex racial and social themes - particularly considering it was published in the 70s. It also is an important and often-unheard voice in the sci-fi genre.

I wanted to love it, but I was disappointed. The writing itself is not great. It draws attention to its own flaws (for example, making reference to how lucky it is that Dana happened to have an item with her). It also doesn't focus much on world-building. The time travel mechanism is a little unclear (why is there no logic to the passage of time? Why do a bag tied to Dana and her husband who is touching her travel with her, but not her bed or chair she is sitting on?). Additionally, there is little description to give the reader any sense of what the 1800s world looks like, and no description at all of Dana's 1976 world.

Most disappointing to me though were the missed opportunities. So much more could have been wrestled with here about race relations, confronting your own identity, and comparing what happened to Dana's ancestors to her 1976 world. The political context is completely ignored and the emotional context is barely more than surface-deep. Instead the focus is on moving the plot forward and the drive to find out how Dana loses her arm (the set-up introduced in the prologue). The deepest we go into Dana's thoughts are a few one-sentence musings on becoming a slave:

"See how easily slaves are made?" and

"I felt sweat on my face mingling with silent tears of frustration and anger. My back had already begun to ache dully, and I felt dully ashamed. Slavery was a long slow process of dulling."

Because this is one of her earliest novels, and I see the potential, I would definitely be up for giving one of her later books a try.

Themes: history, science fiction, time travel, slavery, antebellum south, race

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Reading Progress

April 1, 2009 – Shelved
May 15, 2016 – Started Reading
May 15, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 15, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 16, 2016 –
page 148
May 19, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: ci-book-club
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: culture
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy-science-fiction
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: fate-chance
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: history
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: life-and-death
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: race
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: time
May 22, 2016 – Shelved as: women

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