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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Volume 1: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson
Reason for Reading: YA Reading Challenge
Rating: 5/5


Okay, you want a reason to read this book aside from my assertion that you should read it.

Aside from the name M.T. Anderson, here are a few great reasons to read this book:

1. Fascinating subject matter. This book is set during the Enlightenment, right before and during the Revolutionary War. It was an era when people first began to think that there was a scientific answer to every question in life, and that all answers could be discovered through the experimental method. Octavian, the narrator of the book, lives with a group of scientists who spend their time conducting experiments and writing papers. He has the finest of classical educations, and his mother, a princess, is the center of everyone's attention at the events they host.

Over the course of this book, Octavian begins to suspect that he may be the subject of one their experiments. He must decide for himself then, who he is and what his destiny is to be.

2. Amazing writing. M.T. Anderson captures the dialect, thought process, language, and ideals of the era so perfectly, you would swear that this book actually was a series of original letters and diaries that Anderson collected (as the book purports).

I can think of few other books that so perfectly capture the sense of place. The scientists in the book value rationalism so highly they call either by numbers instead of names so that everyone knows their rank immediately. Historical events occurring around the book are not painted in a broad stroke. Anderson is smart enough to incorporate just enough historical details without overwhelming the reader, and he shows a different side of the events you thought you knew about.

I'm trying really hard not to give too much away about this plot, but this is one of the few books in a series I've read this year where I absolutely will be reading the sequel as soon as it comes out.

Other reviews:
Dewey, The Mumpsimus, Bottle of Shine


Trish said...

Never heard of it, but you certainly caught my attention! It's hard to miss the giant READ THIS BOOK. :)

Debi said...

Great review, Kim! You've definitely left me curious. Annie read this last year...and she just didn't enjoy it all that much. Which really sticks out in my mind, because rarely does she "not" enjoy a book. She has told me recently that she plans to read it again to see if her feelings have changed. Think I might have to give it a whirl one of these days, too.

Nymeth said...

The "READ THIS BOOK" certainly gets your attention :P And you know, I will.

Chayenne said...

I've been getting into YA literature (again) lately, so I'm definitely adding this to my TBR list. =)

mariel said...

This rings a bell, but you'd think I should remember a fabulous title like this! Sounds great. ;)