Synopses & Reviews
Sequel to the National Book Award Winner
Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows — the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause — Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces.
In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, thrusting him into intense battles and tantalizing him with elusive visions of liberty. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.
"A novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called 'encyclopedic' in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensible and deeply textured pattern." The New York Times Book Review
"Octavian, the 16-year-old slave whose story began in The Pox Party (Candlewick, 2006), continues his search for identity in this brilliant, affecting, and philosophical sequel. Octavian and his tutor escape from Octavian's master to relative safety in Boston where Octavian finds work as a violinist in a military band. After hearing of Lord Dunmore's promise of freedom for slaves, he enlists in the Royal Ethiopian Regiment. Following a loss at Norfolk, they then take up quarters aboard British ships, barely fending off starvation and smallpox. Octavian's uncertainty and doubt are tangible throughout. His detailed first-person narration is written in the richly expansive 18th-century prose introduced in volume one. He records the story while reviewing (and revealing to readers) his diary entries from the past year, so that 'none of this shall pass from remembrance.' He endures abuse, shame, grief, and humiliation, and comes close to despair; however, he is ultimately hopeful that humanity can aspire to more than warring and despoiling. Teens will identify with Octavian's internal tumult, how he experiences events as being acted upon him, and his transition from observer to participant, from boy to man. More than fascinating historical fiction, this is also a thoughtful and timeless examination of the nature of humanity and a critique of how society addresses (or ignores) identity, freedom, and oppression. Anderson's masterful pacing, surprising use of imagery and symbolism, and adeptness at crafting structure make this a powerful reimagining of slavery and the American Revolution dazzle. School Library Journal
About the Author
M. T. Anderson is the author of several novels for young adults, including the much-lauded The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party, winner of the National Book Award, and Feed, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. M. T. Anderson lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.