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The Pox Party (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #01)by M. T. Anderson
I'll say right out that The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing is disturbing on a number of levels: it makes historical America seem shockingly contemporary (or, perhaps, futuristic); it explores theories of scientific experimentation and whether the end (a chance at a supposedly "better" world) always justifies the means; and it portrays the frightening isolation of individuals in a so-called free society. But it is also like no other young adult novel I've ever read, written with such wit and precision that I still think about some of the images and characters.
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.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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)
"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
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.
Presented in eighteenth century-style prose, this unique historical novel opens in a dreamlike setting and then moves progressively to stark realism.
A New York Times Best Seller
An Indiebound Best Seller
A Kids' Next Top Ten Book
A Summer/Fall 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices Selection
One of Publishers Weeklyand#8217;s Best Summer Reads
and#147;Not since Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass have I seen such an original and compelling world built inside a book.and#8221;and#151;Megan Whalen Turner, New York Times best-selling author of A Conspiracy of Kings
She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.
Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New Worldand#151;a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. and#160;Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.
Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrackand#8217;s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrackand#8217;s life, they are in danger of losing their own.
The Glass Sentence plunges readers into a time and place they will not want to leave, and introduces them to a heroine and hero they will take to their hearts. It is a remarkable debut.
and#147;I think The Glass Sentence is absolutely marvelous.and#160; Itand#8217;s the best book Iand#8217;ve read in a long time.and#160; The world-building is so convincing, the plot so fast-moving and often surprising, and the ideas behind the novel so completely original. I love this book.and#8221;and#151;Nancy Farmer, National Book Award-winning author of The House of the Scorpion
and#147;I loved it! So imaginative!and#8221;and#151;Nancy Pearl
and#147;An exuberantly imagined cascade of unexplored worlds, inscribed in prose and detail as exquisite as the ... maps young Sophia uses to navigate such unpredictable landscapes. A book like a pirate's treasure hoard for map lovers like me."and#151;Elizabeth Wein, New York Times best-selling author of Code Name Verity
and#147;Brilliant in concept, breathtaking in scale and stellar in its worldbuilding; this is a world never before seen in fiction . . . Wholly original and marvelous beyond compare.and#8221;and#151;Kirkus Reviews, starred review
and#147;A thrilling, time-bending debut . . . Itand#8217;s a cracking adventure, and Grove bolsters the action with commentary on xenophobia and government for hire, as well as a fascinating system of map magic.and#8221;and#151;Publishers Weekly, starred review
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.
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