The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party

by M. T. Anderson

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Now in paperback, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

Young Octavian is being raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers — but it is only after he opens a forbidden door that learns the hideous nature of their experiments, and his own chilling role them. Set in Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s mesmerizing novel takes place at a time when Patriots battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

"Anderson’s imaginative and highly intelligent exploration of . . . the ambiguous history of America’s origins will leave readers impatient for the sequel." — THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763636791
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 01/22/2008
Series: Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 108,718
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 1090L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of several books for children and young adults, including FEED, which was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. M. T. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

THE TRANSIT OF VENUS

I was raised in a gaunt house with a garden; my earliest recollections are of floating lights in the apple-trees.

I recall, in the orchard behind the house, orbs of flames rising through the black boughs and branches; they climbed, spirit-ous, and flickered out; my mother squeezed my hand with delight. We stood near the door to the ice-chamber.

By the well, servants lit bubbles of gas on fire, clad in frock-coats of asbestos.

Around the orchard and gardens stood a wall of some height, designed to repel the glance of idle curiosity and to keep us all from slipping away and running for freedom; though that, of course, I did not yet understand.

How doth all that seeks to rise burn itself to nothing.

The men who raised me were lords of matter, and in the dim chambers I watched as they traced the spinning of bodies celestial in vast, iron courses, and bid sparks to dance upon their hands; they read the bodies of fish as if each dying trout or shad was a fresh Biblical Testament, the wet and twitching volume of a new-born Pentateuch. They burned holes in the air, wrote poems of love, sucked the venom from sores, painted landscapes of gloom, and made metal sing; they dissected fire like newts.

I did not find it strange that I was raised with no one father, nor did I marvel at the singularity of any other article in my upbringing. It is ever the lot of children to accept their circumstances as universal, and their articularities as general.

So I did not ask why I was raised in a house by many men, none of whom claimed blood relation to me. I thought not to inquire why my mother stayed in this house, or why we alone were given names - mine, Octavian; hers, Cassiopeia - when all the others in the house were designated by number.

The owner of the house, Mr. Gitney, or as he styled himself, 03-01, had a large head and little hair and a dollop of a nose. He rarely dressed if he did not have to go out, but shuffled most of the time through his mansion in a banyan-robe and undress cap, shaking out his hands as if he'd washed them newly. He did not see to my instruction directly, but required that the others spend some hours a day teaching me my Latin and Greek, my mathematics, scraps of botany, and the science of music, which grew to be my first love.

The other men came and went. They did not live in the house, but came of an afternoon, or stayed there often for some weeks to perform their virtuosic experiments, and then leave. Most were philosophers, and inquired into the workings of time and memory, natural history, the properties of light, heat, and petrifaction. There were musicians among them as well, and painters and poets.

My mother, being of great beauty, was often painted. Once, she and I were clad as Venus, goddess of love, and her son Cupid, and we reclined in a bower. At other times, they made portraits of her dressed in the finest silks of the age, smiling behind a fan, or leaning on a pillar; and on another occasion, when she was sixteen, they drew her nude, for an engraving, with lines and letters that identified places upon her body.

The house was large and commodious, though often drafty. In its many rooms, the men read their odes, or played the violin, or performed their philosophical exercises. They combined chemical compounds and stirred them. They cut apart birds to trace the structure of the avian skeleton, and, masked in leather hoods, they dissected a skunk. They kept cages full of fireflies. They coaxed reptiles with mice. From the uppermost story of the house, they surveyed the city and the bay through spy-glasses, and noted the ships that arrived from far corners of the Empire, the direction of winds and the migration of clouds across the waters and, on its tawny isle, spotted with shadow, the Castle.

Amidst their many experimental chambers, there was one door that I was not allowed to pass. One of the painters sketched a little skull-and-crossbones on paper, endowed not with a skull, but with my face, my mouth open in a gasp; and this warning they hung upon that interdicted door as a reminder. They meant it doubtless as a jest, but to me, the door was terrible, as ghastly in its secrets as legendary Bluebeard's door, behind which his dead, white wives sat at table, streaked with blood from their slit throats.

We did not venture much out of the house and its grounds into the city that surrounded us. In the garden, we could hear its bustle, the horseshoes on stone cobbles and dirt, the conversation of sailors, the crying of onions and oysters in passageways. The men of that house feared that too much interaction with the world would corrupt me, and so I was, in the main, hidden away for my earliest years, as the infant Jove, snatched out of the gullet of Time, was reared by his horned nurse on Mount Ida in profoundest secrecy.

When we did go abroad, Mr. 03-01 warned me that I should not lean out at the window of the carriage, and should not show my face. He told me that, should I ever run away into the city, I would not return, but would be snatched up by evil men who would take me forever away from my mother. This was, I know now, but a half-lie.

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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Even the title gives the reader a glimpse of the ostentatious nature of this incredible book. THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION is presented as a young adult title, which should in no way limit it only to the teen audience. Indeed, this book will be a challenge for many high school students -- a challenge well worth the effort.

M.T. Anderson immediately immerses his reader in the flowery, pretentious language spoken in the Revolutionary War period, a language that requires thought and concentration for today's reader. Once the reader is acclimated to the writing style, they are already hooked by Octavian's story. Octavian, an African prince, was sold while yet unborn, to one Mr.
Gitney, referred to as 03-01, of the Novanglian College of Lucidity. He was dressed in fine silks and fed the finest of fares. His mother was treated as the African princess she was, entertaining gentlemen, playing her harpsichord.

It was not until Octavian turned eight that he realized his life was not normal, that he was indeed one of the College's experiments. No other human being had their intake, as well as their body's waste, measured and recorded. Every word spoken, every situation, was a challenge to excel, an experiment to determine if the African race was capable of advanced thought and skill. Not all children, especially black children, were given the opportunity for a classical education. Octavian was already an accomplished violinist. He read all of the great literature, in several languages, including Greek and Latin. He understood figures, physics, and sciences of the earth. No discipline was left untouched in the quest to determine the potential of a slave to learn.

THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION is written from Octavian's point of view. Some passages are as though written by his own hand, then scribbled through, as if Octavian, with his vast education, still could not find the proper words to convey the horrors he had lived. His life of seeming luxury changes when the college's benefactor dies. Mr. Gitney entertains Lord Cheldethorpe in hopes that he will see fit to continue to finance the college as his uncle before him. For a time it seems that he is the solution to the College's financial distress. Especially since he has taken an acute interest in Octavian's mother. It is when she violently opposes his offer of her purchase, rather than a
royal marriage, that Octavian and his mother experience the outrage and beatings more typical in the life of a slave. To Octavian's great relief, Lord Cheldethorpe returns to England and a new financial supporter, Mr. Sharpe, is found.

But Mr. Sharpe changes the experiment. Now the lessons seem more designed to prove failure rather than success. When not engaged in his ¿lessons," Octavian is treated as a simple slave, along with his mother. Add to this the mounting unrest of the American nation, and fear is paramount. The entire household flees Boston to Canaan, Massachusetts. It is there that the most horrific experiment takes place. Mr. Gitney throws a pox party, whereby all, white and black alike, are ¿inoculated¿ against the small pox virus in hopes that they will be immune. Instead, Octavian witnesses pain and loss at the most personal level.....

Read the rest of this review at www.teensreadtoo.com
LiteraryObsession More than 1 year ago
This book was recommeded to me. I normally don't read this genre of books. This book is based on fact as the author points out at the end of the book. Octavian speaks to you of his life, and the atrocities commited against him. This book is definitly not for young children. The issues raised in this book show the true horrors of slavery during the American Revolution and the shady experiments performed by early scientists. The details in this book will chill you and you won't be able to put this book down. This is the type of book that breaks the tradition of the teen books that raise inappropriate topics. This book is the best I have ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am Isaiah and I recently finished reading the book the astonishing life of Octavian nothing. This book is set in the early American revolution. I found this book to be very good despite the reviews that I read before actually ready it. This book makes you think about what could happen next again and again trying to figure out a secret that the philosophers are trying so hard to stop people from finding out. Later in the story  Octavian's awareness grows, his  surroundings are brokend by stirrings of revolution. When the college's most prestigious experiment goes horribly wrong, an increasingly melancholy Octavian must make his own way in a rapidly changing world. The first part of the book was good but the beginning was kind of slow and dry. When reading this book I have connected small parts of my life with this book because Octavian learned latin and greek like im currently doing in my high school. Really anybody can relate there life to this book because everyone one point in their life has been curious about something that they cant have or just want to know about. Octavians life confused me as his mothers a queen and they both live with philosopher’s who deside to teach Octavian the meanings of life and every subject that he can learn possible . Finally my last thought’s on this book is that anybody who is looking for something with a twist at every turn a great secret that you have to find out  when your done reading and the quality of a good book. But one might not catch the fact that there are to plots to this book and I have to say that I love it. The book allows the reader to ask different questons while reading the story. Some people won’t like it if there not into a fairy tale type of a story. I recommend this book for ages 14 and up anybody lower in age won’t really understand what the book has t offer. Isaiah Graham
N_Sorensen More than 1 year ago
From what I have read so far, I have enjoyed The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. It is very interesting and I can't wait to read the second novel. The only problem is that the writing style might be hard for younger readers. I reccomend this book for high school students who are looking for a challenge.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, set in the 1700's was a book about racial injustices. The Protagonist in this book was an African American boy who was brought up in an institute trying to prove whether or not a black man that was brought up in an educated way would be as productive as a white man. This boy was taught many things, including Latin and Greek. He was submitted to Smallpox. His life was an experiment, a joke, completely destroyed by a group of narrow minded scientists out to prove a point. If you enjoy stories where the protagonist is brought down by the system and in the end prevails over the system and learns from the experience, then you'll enjoy this book.
cuttoothom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second of M.T. Anderson's novels for Young Adults to make my classroom list, and for good reason. Octavian Nothing is a young boy who leads what he accepts as a priveleged life. He does not realize he is a slave, because he has been pampered by his owners for the benefit or their diabolical experiments - to prove that a black child, even granted a full education and the same upbringing as a white child, is naturally in less intelligent than a white child. Octavian's masters wish to prove that the "african race" is factually lesser than the Caucasian one. The novel is brilliant because the experiment is a definite failure - Octavian proves himself to be, time and time again, as adept as any other person of any other race, and more so.This novel, set before the Civil War, raises vital questions about the negative effects of slavery and, more specifically, the negative influences of racism and bigotry.Although students may find the elevated prose of Octavian's first-person narrative daunting, they will also find his history to be astounding and captivating, and occasionally gruesome - but always important and revelatory.
viviandoughty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating story, one that could be exceeded in interest by, perhaps, only the author's explanations behind many of the subjects and topics that come up. Anderson's use of the English Language, his connections to History, his "painting" of Revolutionary War era slavery and hypocrisy are all part of the 'astonishing' final product. I thought of Jane Austen when assessing his use of language. Like her, I believe his use of text transports the reader back to a time, to an era, to a place. Being written as such, one is enabled to be 'drawn into' the sequence of events. I fail to give this book five stars because of it's seeming false start. Otherwise, it is fantastic!
KClaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book won a Printz Honor Award as well as the 2006 National Book Award for Young People's literature. At first I felt put off by the stiff writing style. It is not a particularly accessible book. And, like "Feed", also by Anderson, it is a grim and progressively dark tale. Octavian is the name of a boy raised by a group of rational philosophers who call themselves the Novanglian College of Lucidity. They are studying Octavian to see what will happen when an African slave is given the education of a European prince. The College is located in Boston, and the story begins a few years before the American Revolution. Octavian tells the story: ¿They supported my every interest and encouraged my curiosity¿They taught me the tongues of the Greeks and the Romans and opened for me the colonnaded vistas of those long-forgotten empires, in this, the dawning of a new empire. They schooled me in music,¿(page 13) All very well, however, one gradually learns that these lessons are horrifying, in that they are conducted on a child without concern for the feelings of the child. The philosopher subject everything to the scrutiny of loveless experimental observation: ¿When I was young, before I could tell numbers and operate a scales and so record the weight of my own excrement, the men of the house daily performed this calculation for me. They weighed what I ate when it went in, and daily took the measure of its transformation when it came out.¿(page 28) Although coldly rational, the College of Lucidity does not perceive the irony of telling Octavian:: ¿they told me of color, that it was an illusion of the eye, an event in the perceiver¿s mind, not in the object; they told me that color did not inhere in a physical body any more than pain was in a needle.¿ (page 314) Octavian is caught like a fly in a web, and though he is well-educated, he does not realize the danger of his situation until it is nearly too late.
thediaryofabookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In my constant trickle of incoming books, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (etc.) landed on my shelf about 2 1/2 months ago. I usually have about 15- 20 books hanging around in the to-be-read area of my extensive bookshelves, and what I read next is often based on whim. But at the Ad Astra panel I attended, Octavian Nothing was briefly alluded to as one of the few literary YA novels recently published (in the context of does literary YA sell? P.S.-yes, but rarely to publishers), and this suitably sparked my interest to make it next on my actual reading pileThe first thing I must say about this book is, it's not a light read. Dealing with slavery, antiquated science and the American civil war, all in the language of the time and with a very challenging vocabulary, it's more akin to ploughing through Shakespeare when you were 14 then your average casual read. Since the majority of the population managed Shakespeare, one way or another (Coles notes anyone?), I have faith that with the use of a dictionary, or Wikipedia, most readers can manage the language. The story may be another matter.I alternated between fascinated and having to force my eyes open from boredom. It was a weird dichotomy but it seemed to stem from the two divergent (but not really) storylines in the book. The first is the one telling Octavians life and history, by stages you come to realise he is both black, and unbeknownst to him, a slave. His mother says she's a captured African princess and they are treated well, albeit oddly, in their home The Novanglian College of Lucidity, where they are more experiments then slaves. The second story line follows the American Civil War, which creeps gradually into the story until it is the primary aspect of it by the end. It was this part I found very dull, possibly because it was told almost entirely from a rotating point of view of others who aren't part of the original story. But also largely due to the fact that Octavian becomes a secondary character by this point, and since I was more interested in him and his experience than the actual civil war it meant I really lost interest in where the story was wandering off too.All of this being said, at the very ending the story came back to Octavian and his plight as a black slave during the civil war and re-captured my interest. So I'll reserve my final judgment on that part of the story arc until I've read the second part to the series the Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume II: Kingdom of the Waves (maybe it was going somewhere after all? just to be continued??).To date Volume one has won numerous awards; it is a one of kind book in many ways. It opened my eyes to some of the more shocking aspects of slavery and racism of the time, and in general I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about historical matters. The initial part of the story is written in a really intriguing way, where you're not sure what's really happening most of the time, and there are a lot of surprising reveals about both Octavian, his mother and the scientists who surround them. So, although I found the last 100 pages or so really dull, I do highly recommend the story as a whole. Who knows, maybe volume two will redeem the parts of part one I didn't enjoy?
TZacek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Part one of the Octavian Nothing series, Anderson's The Pox Party was here and there for me. The wording was lyrical and engaging at some points. At others, it dragged for me, especially in the first section of the novel. By the second portion of the book, things had picked up for me and I was engaged. Initially knowing absolutely nothing about this book, I was surprised when it was revealed that Octavian was African (hope I didn't spoil anything for anyone). When his mother, pregnant with him, was purchased and taken to The College of Lucidity, she little knew what was in store for her and her unborn child. The college, however, had very detailed plans: to prove or disprove the discrepancy between caucasians and african americans. Octavian is taught science and philosophy, music and literature. And, most importantly, how to observe. There are so many angles with which to tackle this book, it is hard to find one way to describe it without giving away all the good bits. Though Anderson's writing can get a bit draggy and wordy, he has a way with tackling description that is remarkably lovely. There were times when I would have questioned this as a YA book, having to go back and read some passages myself because my mind had wandered partway through. That said, I loved the design of this book. Made to look like a book of the time period, the page edging is textured and uneven, and the binding and print is set to look more like a weighty, educational tome than modern YA novel.
KamTonnes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book for two reasons: 1) YA author John Green spoke highly of it in his blog, and 2) I had enjoyed two other books by M.T. Anderson, Feed and Whales on Stilts. I started Octavian cold, with no idea what it was about or even what genre it was. Once in the middle of it, I was struck by how different it is from the other two books I mentioned above: a complex, serious book of historical fiction intricately grounded in the grimy and the enlightened world of Colonial Boston just before the American Revolution began.Historical fiction is not my favorite genre: I appreciate it as a way to venture into history, but it¿s not the first thing I turn to when looking for a good read. So, at times, I faced reading Octavian without a tremendous level of enthusiasm. However, it was intriguing in many ways, partly in the use of multiple points of view. At first, Octavian tells his story, recreating for the reader his transformation from an innocent boy who had no idea of the context of his strangely luxurious and yet prescribed life to a more experienced youth who could see the lines of power that surrounded him more clearly. Later, we learn about Octavian¿s time on the run only through from other characters¿ limited accounts, with no clear view into Octavian¿s thoughts. Finally, we hear again directly from Octavian to learn what he makes of his experiences and how he faces an uncertain future. Altogether, a complex, intriguing, intricately detailed narrative.
kmasterson07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book but can be a hard sell for teen readers. Most of my students found they had to read 50 to 75 pages to get into the book. They story line is good but out of reach for those that do not have a rich intellectual homelife. Still those that stick with it like it and feel that they have a better unbderstandung of the 1700's and slavery. I listened to this on tape and found the tortures scenes at the end disturbing. My boys did not regret them though they also said they were hard to read. I have gotten parent permission when using this book with 8th graders.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Octavian Nothing Volume 1 takes place in Boston in the early days of the American Revolution. It is the story of a black boy named Octavian, who lives with his princess mother in a household of rationalist philosophers. These philosophers use Octavian and his mother as social experiments. In order to test the inferiority of his African race, Octavian is raised like a prince with silk and a classical education. Yet despite his luxuries, his is a strange, closeted childhood and in many ways, he and his mother are as much slaves as any of the other Africans who serve them.This was a subtle, cultured, disturbing tale. It makes heavy use of classical literature and philosophy, but it is also a tale about race and class and slavery. MT Anderson writes with a fluid yet archaic style that perfectly suits Octavian's archaic yet fascinating life.
bfoye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love books set during the American Revolution, and this one did not disappoint. What I found interesting about this book was to see the Revolution from the point of view of a slave who sides with America because they are fighting for freedom; however, he begins to realize the hypocrisy of this fight for freedom when slaves are being denied this freedom.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Given the difficulty of reading the 18th century language, and the profoundly disturbing nature of the book, I would not recommend it for younger teens. In fact, it could easily be classified an adult book. Great read for high school juniors and seniors in AP English though. M.T. Anderson's depiction of colonial Boston felt so real to me, especially as a Boston area resident. Octavian's story is is gut-wrenching, and the "rationality" of his owners is chilling. Brilliant. Plan to read Volume 2.
LindsaySC on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! I picked up this book thinking I probably wouldn't get through it. I didn't think historical fiction was my cup of tea and the length of the book was intimidating (don't worry, it's broken up into short chapters), but the cover really drew me in and I wanted to find out what the book was all about.Even though the book is written in the language of its time (during the Revolutionary War in America), I got into a quick reading rhythm pretty easily and enjoyed escaping to a world in the past. Octavian's circumstances are very interesting. He's basically a human experiment to see if blacks are capable of learning just as much as whites. He's given lessons in Latin and Greek, the Classics, science and philosophy, and is a virtuoso on the violin. Yet, his life is not entirely secure. When his mother refuses to marry a rich Englishman, all hell breaks loose and Octavian's life is flipped upside-down.The ending of Volume 1 is so satisfying. I didn't see it coming at all! I really want to pick up Volume 2 sometime soon. This book changed my mind entirely about reading historical fiction. I liked it just as much as I like reading books that take place in the future. This book is a great escape and well worth the read.
Daniel.Estes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I like to dive into a book without any foreknowledge of plot or context. Unfortunately, I began this book the same way and was lost and disinterested for the first 150 pages. I eventually figured out the writing is meant to emulate the speech and style of 18th century colonial America. This was a relief because I didn't understand why I was having so much trouble comprehending the language at first.The story of Octavian is gutsy in it's style and delivery though perhaps too gutsy. It's difficult to really feel Octavian's struggles because he acts so distantly un-human too often. We learn the secret of his plight almost as he learns it, which causes us both to be confused. I literally thought Octavian's caretakers at the beginning were robots and I was reading some sort of steampunk novel.The novel finds a better voice near the middle through to the end, but then the ending is vague. Perhaps this story is the setup for the next? Still, I don't have the interest or energy to find out.
adge73 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Talk about astonishing -- Anderson never fails to surprise me with his mastery of first-person narration. This very much deserves the National Book Award it won. The language isn't easy, but it's also right and has the ring of truth, and the fascinating story will keep serious readers turning pages. A thoughtful, powerful novel.
yarmando on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful, exciting, fascinating book, well-deserving of its National Book Award. Octavian is the son of a captured west African girl (princess?). Classically trained, Octavian is the subject of a freakish experiment to prove the equality or inferiority of black people.
escondidolibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
15-year-old Octavian seems privileged. He dresses in the finest silks and is educated by great scholars and artists. But as he grows older, he begins to question things like: Why do only he and his mother have names while everyone else is referred to by numbers? Why do the scholars study so much about Octavian, including his bodily functions? And what lies behind the locked door which Octavian has been forbidden to enter? This book is set in Boston around the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The author uses 18th century language, which makes this a difficult read. But the historical information and Octavian's struggles to solve the mysteries of his life make it an enjoyable read.
eduscapes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When you combine the unique storyline, engaging literary approach, and interesting perspectives on issues like slavery and the American Revolution, I can understand why this book has been getting awards. If you'd asked me to describe the book after reading the first section, I would have used words like strange, bizarre, and just plain weird. However once the book got rolling, I really wondered what would happen to Octavian and his mother. By the end, I was looking for the author's website to see if a sequel was in the works. If you enjoy historical fiction and seek out unique perspectives on this well-known time period, it's well-worth the experience.
paakre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
M.T. Anderson's subject is the moral issue of personal freedom vs. public responsibility, and in this book, set in 18th century New England, the context is the impending war of the American rebels versus the English patriots. Who has a better cause: those who would cast off their British tyrants and keep slavery to fuel the economy or those enlightened despots who are ready to free slaves? The convoluted style of the period does not always seem authentic, but the point of view of the main narrator is affecting and thoughtful and provocative.
cinf0master on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
16-year-old Octavian, a former prince studying under Mr. 03-01 at the College of Lucidity, finds his situation dramatically reversed as funding sources dwindle. Living as a slave and subject in 18th century America leads Octavian to question the principles that the Revolutionaries claim to uphold. Flowery prose, attempts at period writing styles, and uninteresting characters doom this historically based novel. As with any reality show, Octavian exhibits unflattering behaviors while living his life under a microscope. A consistent point of view and less reliance on historical devices would improve the story.
DaveFragments on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't finish the book. It was just not my cup of tea, so to speak. Too slow and too mysterious. No action.
Librarygirl66 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.