The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I (Hardcover)
The Pox Party
Candlewick, 9780763624026, 368pp.
Publication Date: September 12, 2006
Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (10/14/2008)
Compact Disc (1/9/2007)
Hardcover, Large Print, Large Print (6/1/2007)
Winter 2009 Kids' List
— Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
View the List
This deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy's regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians' fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them. Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson's extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and 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 the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
About the Author
Praise For The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party…
—New York Times Book Review
The story’s scope is immense, in both its technical challenges and underlying intellectual and moral questions. . . . Readers will marvel at Anderson’s ability to maintain this high-wire act of elegant, archaic language and shifting voices.
—Booklist (starred review)
Fascinating and eye-opening… this powerful novel will resonate with contemporary readers.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Octavian's narration...quickly draws readers into its almost musical flow, and the relentless action and plot turns are powerful motivators.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
A historical novel of prodigious scope, power and insight...This is the Revolutionary War seen at its intersection with slavery through a disturbingly original lens.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Anderson (Whales on Stilts) once again shows the breadth of his talents with this stunningly well-researched novel.
A brilliantly complex interrogation of our basic American assumptions. Anderson has created an alternative narrative of our national mythology, one that fascinates, appalls, condemns — and enthralls.
—Horn Book, The
Historically grounded, emotionally and philosophically complex, Octavian Nothing will compel readers to think differently about history and its echoes in the contemporary world.
It’s probably the best young-adult novel in American history, top 10 for sure.
A brilliant, passionate book that is flat-out unforgettable, a virtuoso exercise in voice that in no way distances the reader from the narrator and an experience of deeply felt empathy that his slowly emerging understanding of the nature of his existence engenders.
—Michael Cart, “Carte Blanche," Booklist
Imaginative and important.
—Wall Street Journal
Gripping, thought-provoking and occasionally horrifying …this is first-class literature, a deserved winner of this year's National Book Award for young readers.
Presents a unique vision of this nation's infancy, one to which young-adult readers with sophisticated tastes are likely to respond with enthusiasm.
—San Francisco Chronicle
The most daring and demanding of the fall books… Even more extraordinary is Anderson's powerful, nuanced revelation of the deep hypocrisies, the pernicious relationship between "rational" inquiry and cruelty; political expediency and the god of "reason"; ideas of democracy and true "Observation" of evidence.
A brilliant novel of war and race and the madness of slavery, Octavian has stayed with me for years.