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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation

Volume One. The Pox Party
Anderson, M. T. (Book - 2006 )
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
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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.
Authors: Anderson, M. T.
Title: The astonishing life of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation
Volume one. The pox party
Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2006.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: 351 p. ;,24 cm.
Notes: "Taken from accounts by his own hand and other sundry sources"--t.p.
Summary: 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.
Audience: 1090
Awards & Distinctions: A Junior Library Guild selection.
Local Note: Reading Counts RC 83 10180
Accelerated Reader AR 80 10130
MSSUMMER
ISBN: 9780763624026
0763624020
Statement of Responsibility: taken from accounts by [Octavius Nothing's] own hand and other sundry sources ; collected by Mr. M. T. Anderson of Boston
Study Program: Reading Counts RC High School 8.3 18.0 Quiz: 39478 Guided reading level: NR.
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.0 13.0 Quiz: 108594.
Subject Headings: United States History Revolution, 1775-1783 Fiction. Massachusetts History Revolution, 1775-1783 Fiction. African Americans Fiction. Science Experiments Fiction. Slavery Fiction. Freedom Fiction.
Genre/Form: Young adult fiction.
Topical Term: African Americans
Science
Slavery
Freedom
LCCN: 2006043170
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Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Octavian’s life might be astonishing, but his story is not. Anderson tells us that Octavian has an astonishing life, but he doesn’t show us. Octavian himself doesn’t even know his life is any different than other people’s, other boys’, other blacks. Even when he figures it out – when he finds out that he’s actually a slave and not the beloved prince of a household, and suddenly made to act accordingly – nothing really changes in his demeanor, he seems quite unastonished actually.

There is a barrier between us and what might be good about this novel. There could be something astonishing here, but it’s hidden under other people’s letters driving the plot instead of the main character’s actions, in breakneck plot changes that don’t seem to bother the characters too much, and behind mysterious forbidden doors that, once opened, just result in a dry lecture by a man who changed his name to a number for very little reason and later changed it back just the same.

When you have to call your story “astonishing” in the title, it’s very likely not to be so.

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Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The Latin for “slave” – servus – as rendered in English literally is “the spared one”; slaves being those taken prisoner in battle, who should, therefore, by all rules of engagement, have been slain. In antiquity, slaves possessed no rights as citizens because, though spared, they were accounted dead, and as the dead, could not be admitted as living men; and so, for generations, the dead toiled and bred in Rome; the dead taught Rome’s children the secrets of philosophy; the dead built Rome’s great monuments and tombs; until the Romans themselves joined the dead, and all that remained were tombs, and monuments, and half-remembered tombs.

Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me.

Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I should not be sorry, did the Lord sweep the savages further to the west; but I doubt His divine will shall ever be expressed through Virginians.

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