Friday, February 13, 2009

Category 1, Book 2: Award Winners - Octavian Nothing

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
999 Challenge Category: Award Winners (check out this post for an explanation of the challenge and my categories).

Octavian, a slave owned by Mr. Gitney (aka 03-01) of Boston, and son of an African princess, doesn't realize that his childhood - consisting of Latin and violin lessons, experiments and the measuring of his waste - is odd. His narrative begins with impressions from his younger days and gradually follows a more chronological path as he becomes older and more aware of the revolutionary world beyond the College of Lucidity.

This exceptional historical fiction received the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006. It doesn't strike me as a particularly teen/ya novel (even though it's billed as such), but seemed like one of those books that appeals to adults more, overall. The plot took awhile to get going, especially with the short, impressionistic glimpses we get of Octavian's earliest memories, but the writing is superb and the characters so well-drawn and sympathetic that I couldn't help but read on. In the end, I was ready to start the second book as soon as possible. 5 stars.

Cross-posted at the 999 Challenge.


Cindy B said...

I haven't read this one, but I read The Game of Sunken Places and was really impressed. But it was more for teens. I will have to look for this one.

Mary said...

I haven't read that one, but I'll have to look into it. I was really impressed with his writing. The story just struck me as one that, even though about a teen, appealed more to adults who didn't mind a slower start to a story to get more involved with the history, place, and characters.