Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

I love anything MT (which I recently learned stands for Matthew Tobin) Anderson writes. Cailly - have you read FEED? Because if you haven't, you have to. It's sooo good. And scary. And I think about it everytime I log onto and they have a list of recommended books for me. Or when I email from gmail and all the advertisements switch to honeymoon adventures and bridal shower gifts if the topic of our discussion happens to be bridesmaid dresses. Anyway.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is so different from the rest of his books (Actually ALL of his books are different from the rest of his books), it's amazing. If I had to compare it to any of his other books I'd pick Feed I guess - only because the story is dark and frightening. In Feed though, the world he creates is in the future, a scary prediction of what our consumer society could come to. Octavian Nothing is based in the past, during the very beginnings of the Revolutionary War, and derived from true events. MT Anderson says in his author's note that Octavian Nothing was inspired by true experiments performed during the late 18th century on 'non-Europeans' to guage whether or not they had the same capacity to learn as Europeans. And, as you could imagine, a lot of people were only satisfied if the results proved they did not. It is a chilling account, and much of the book is written in the perspective of Octavian as he learns that he is nothing more than a research subject.

The book is written in challenging, realistic 18th-century language. It is hard to read, and I'm not sure how many teenagers are going to willingly pick this book up themselves. Cailin - I have to honestly say I'm not sure if you'd like this book now, but in a few years, maybe. It's dark and heavy and hard to read. There are tons of terms that I didn't recognize, and when I chose a few to look up, I wasn't surprised to find they were from 'Old French' and specific to the time period. This isn't to say that I don't think this book should be read by every teenager out there. It belongs on the teen shelf. And I am actually really irritated with all of the reviews I'm reading that say 'Despite it being a children's book,' or 'This is clearly an adult book,' or this.

But anyway. Buxton clearly enjoyed this book as well, especially the cover and first fifty pages which he ate entirely. I have to go slink over to the library now...and buy them a new book...


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