Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor the the Nation, Vol. 1

Octavian is raised in a world of science and is told from a young age that he is an exiled prince of a great African nation. However, when rumblings of revolt shatter the walls of the lyceum, the true nature of Octavian's birth and life are revealed.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party opens in a time and place which are unclear, but as the story unfolds, it is clear that it takes place in Boston just before the American Revolution. The writing style, mostly in the voice of Octavian himself, is therefore very florid and somewhat archaic, making it very hard to digest as a Young Adult novel. In fact, because of the writing style, I can't picture many young adults getting far enough into the book to discover the historical aspects of it. That's not to say that it's not a good book - just that it may be missing the mark a bit.

I did have another problem with the writing style - Octavian's narrative is interspersed with letters from various characters, which is fine, as they add another depth to the narrative. However, about two-thirds of the way into the book, the narration changes to letters written by one Patriot soldier, who happens to meet and befriend Octavian. Then, there is another abrupt switch back to Octavian's POV. This was terribly jarring to me and, while I realize that Octavian wasn't in his usual mindset during that part of the story, I felt a bit cheated to only get the soldier's side of the story.

Overall, I can't say that I recommend this book, unless you are really interested in historical fiction dealing with the American Revolution. For stories dealing with that time period, though, this is a breakthrough novel, both in terms of the narrator and in the narration style. if you enjoy this book, Volume 2: The Kingdom of Waves, will be released in October.

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