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The Pox Party (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #01)

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The Pox Party (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #01) Cover

ISBN13: 9780763636791
ISBN10: 0763636797
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

 

Awards

2007 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Staff Pick

This is an astonishingly imagined and well-researched book. Octavian Nothing's life is chronicled in the style of a slave narrative, but at times reads like a futuristic nightmare. Though living in apparent luxury, Octavian and his mother are slaves to an experiment by a group of rational philosophers in pre-revolutionary Boston. The craven nature of this relationship is both shocking to read and clearly metaphorical. While examining notions of freedom, scientific ethics, and rationality, as well as national- and self-delusion, this haunting book will stay with you for months to come.
Recommended by Lori M., Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A gothic tale becomes all too shockingly real in this mesmerizing magnum opus by the acclaimed author of Feed.

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.

Review:

"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." The Horn 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)

Synopsis:

Presented in eighteenth century-style prose, this unique historical novel opens in a dreamlike setting and then moves progressively to stark realism.

Synopsis:

Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age 16, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

Synopsis:

Now in paperback, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

Young Octavian is being raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers — but it is only after he opens a forbidden door that learns the hideous nature of their experiments, and his own chilling role them. Set in Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Andersons mesmerizing novel takes place at a time when Patriots 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 past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

"Andersons imaginative and highly intelligent exploration of . . . the ambiguous history of Americas origins will leave readers impatient for the sequel." — THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

About the Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of several books for children and young adults, including Feed, which was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. M. T. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

John Servilio, June 17, 2011 (view all comments by John Servilio)
I know Octavian Nothing is classified as an historical novel for "young readers," but never while I was reading this book did this cross my mind. Despite the main character's age, the language and story are quite "adult." Beautifully written, excellent plotting and characterization, wonderful narrative. I highly recommend this!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
funchum, September 3, 2009 (view all comments by funchum)
Even if I had known or remembered that this was by the author of Feed - which I liked quite a bit - it would not have done much to prepare me for this one. I was actually startled by how good this is. It is very encouraging to think that there are teens out there reading such a beautifully-written, sophisticated book. Have faith. Recommended for ages 14 and up, including adults.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, December 25, 2008 (view all comments by Shoshana)
Good enough that I may replace my paperback with a hardbound copy. Classified as young adult fiction (perhaps only because of its young adult protagonist) this first volume of Octavian Nothing reads a bit like Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, only interesting, coherent, and with a discernible plot and character empathy. In addition to the action, set in the early U.S. Revolutionary War period, the major thematic material concerns Octavian's identity. He is simultaneously royalty and slave, collaborator and experimental subject, learned and naive. Volume two may (as the subtitle of this volume suggests) explore Patriot vs. Loyalist. Octavian Nothing raises many questions about whether ends justify means, about struggles for liberty (liberty for whom?), and the virtues and limits of empirical knowledge.

Some reviewers have complained that the language is too mannered and stylistic, but I found it atmospheric rather than detracting. It adds to the historical flavor, and also serves to demonstrate Octavian's rarified upbringing and separation from the general community. The text is suffused with a dry wit and symbolic events that satirize aspects of the plot and characters' struggles and aspirations. Some of these are recognized by some characters; others are not. The mannered tone, arch at times, provides linguistiic containment for otherwise horrific content. Anderson manages this balance quite elegantly. This meticulousness of form and language extends to the book's typesetting in Casalon, a font popular in the American colonial period.

Of note is a self-referential joke on page 203 in the paperback edition. Dr. Trefusis muses, "When I peer into the reaches of the most distant futurity, I fear that even in some unseen epoch when there are colonies even upon the moon itself, there shall still be gatherings like this, where the young, blinded by privilege, shall dance and giggle and compare their poxy lesions." This, of course, is the initial action in Anderson's previous novel Feed.
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(4 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780763636791
Author:
Anderson, M. T.
Publisher:
Candlewick Press (MA)
Illustrator:
Laurier, Jim
Illustrator:
Postlethwaite, Mark
Subject:
Historical - United States - Colonial
Subject:
Social Issues - General
Subject:
People & Places - United States - African-American
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
African Americans
Subject:
Historical - United States - Colonial & Revolutionary
Subject:
Historical / United States / Revolutionary Periods
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-General
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Subject:
historical fiction;slavery;fiction;ya;young adult;american revolution;revolutionary war;historical;national book award;boston;science;african americans;history;smallpox;printz honor;african american;philosophy;experiments;teen;fantasy;race;freedom;novel;1
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
20080131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1-COLOR
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.00x5.80x1.00 in. .87 lbs.
Age Level:
14-17

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Related Subjects

Children's » Awards » Michael L. Printz Award Winners
Children's » General
Children's » Historical Fiction
Children's » Historical Fiction » United States » Colonial and Revolutionary Periods
Children's » Sale Books
Children's » Situations » General
Children's » Situations » Physical and Emotional Abuse
Young Adult » General

The Pox Party (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #01) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Candlewick Press (MA) - English 9780763636791 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This is an astonishingly imagined and well-researched book. Octavian Nothing's life is chronicled in the style of a slave narrative, but at times reads like a futuristic nightmare. Though living in apparent luxury, Octavian and his mother are slaves to an experiment by a group of rational philosophers in pre-revolutionary Boston. The craven nature of this relationship is both shocking to read and clearly metaphorical. While examining notions of freedom, scientific ethics, and rationality, as well as national- and self-delusion, this haunting book will stay with you for months to come.

"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , Presented in eighteenth century-style prose, this unique historical novel opens in a dreamlike setting and then moves progressively to stark realism.
"Synopsis" by , Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age 16, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.
"Synopsis" by , Now in paperback, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

Young Octavian is being raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers — but it is only after he opens a forbidden door that learns the hideous nature of their experiments, and his own chilling role them. Set in Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Andersons mesmerizing novel takes place at a time when Patriots 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 past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

"Andersons imaginative and highly intelligent exploration of . . . the ambiguous history of Americas origins will leave readers impatient for the sequel." — THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

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