THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION by M.T. Anderson
Kirkus Star

THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION

Volume 1, The Pox Party

KIRKUS REVIEW

A historical novel of prodigious scope, power and insight, set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. Readers are seduced by a gothic introduction to the child Octavian, whose bizarre situation is both lavish and eerie. Octavian is domiciled with a gentleman scholar at the “College of Lucidity.” A sentient being, he is a living experiment, from his classical education to the notated measurement of his bodily intake and output; as such, the study will degenerate from earnest scholarly investigation to calculated sociopolitical propaganda. Upon learning that he’s a slave, Octavian resolves to prove his excellence. But events force the destitute College to depend on a new benefactor who demands research that proves the inferiority of the black race. Like many Africans, Octavian runs away, joining the Revolutionary army, which fights for “liberty,” while ironically never assuring slaves freedom. Written in a richly faithful 18th-century style, the revelations of Octavian’s increasingly degraded circumstances slowly, horrifyingly unfold to the reader as they do to Octavian. The cover’s gruesomely masked Octavian epitomizes a nation choking on its own hypocrisy. This is the Revolutionary War seen at its intersection with slavery through a disturbingly original lens. (Historical fiction. YA-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-2402-0
Page count: 358pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2006




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