Book Review: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

02 Jun

Title: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

Author: M. T. Anderson

Publication Date:  September 12, 2006

Genre: Young Adult/ HIstorical Fiction

Publisher: Candlewick

Rating: 0/5 stars

Summary (from Barnes & Noble): 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.

My Review: I was rather excited to read this book as I’m rather partial to Historical Fiction (as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now) and it had received so many excellent reviews. Then I picked it up and started reading. This book was quite possibly the least exciting book I’ve read in a very long time. There was nothing of merit that drew me in, there were no characters that I became emotionally invested in and there was no story line that grabbed me or compelled me to turn page after page as quick as I could.

To be perfectly honest I find the book slow-going and at times rather dreadful and slightly confusing. The change of text type, format of the book and narrative quality seemed unnecessary and too forced. I didn’t feel that the book flowed naturally and the jumpy feel to it made it difficult for me to absorb the information.

It actually got so bad that I put the book down about 2/3s of the way through and haven’t picked up it since, and I don’t really intend to. I’d been intending on picking of “Feed” by M. T. Anderson soon however,  my experience with this book now has me hesitating. Any thoughts?


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5 responses to “Book Review: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party

  1. midnightatnoon

    9 May, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think the slow going is what makes it good. Granted, I’m not finished with the book, but the story itself seems kind of horrifying. Moves slow and kind of dreary like an Edgar Allen Poe story. Just my .02.

    • Breaking the Binding

      9 May, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      I can totally understand how the pace would work in that context! I know a lot of people enjoyed the book, it just wasn’t really my cup of tea. I may try some of M.T. Anderson’s other stuff to see if I like it better!

      • midnightatnoon

        9 May, 2012 at 4:24 pm

        That’s totally legit. It’s really not for everyone, especially if you’re a big YA reader.

        • Breaking the Binding

          10 May, 2012 at 8:00 am

          Well, I tend to read everything, but I mostly only review YA books for the blog. I was disappointed that I didn’t like it because Historical Fiction is quite possibly my favorite genre to read.

          • midnightatnoon

            10 May, 2012 at 9:35 am

            I definetely get that. I’m the same way.


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