Synopses & Reviews
Volume II of the National Book Award Winner and New York Times
bestseller — a stunning resolution to the epic tale that fascinates, appalls, condemns, and enthralls.
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.
"With an eye trained to the hypocrisies and conflicted loyalties of the American Revolution, Anderson resoundingly concludes the finely nuanced bildungsroman begun in his National Book Award-winning novel. Again comprised of Octavian's journals and a scattering of other documents, the book finds Octavian heading to Virginia in response to a proclamation made by Lord Dunmore, the colony's governor, who emancipates slaves in exchange for military service. Octavian's initial pride is short-lived, as he realizes that their liberation owes less to moral conviction than to political expediency. Disillusioned, facing other crises of conscience, Octavian's growth is apparent, if not always to himself: when he expresses doubt about having become any more a man, his mentor, Dr. Trefusis, assures him, 'That is the great secret of men. We aim for manhood always and always fall short. But my boy, I have seen you at least reach half way.' Made aware of freedom-fighters on both sides of the conflict (as well as heart-stopping acts of atrocity), readers who work through and embrace Anderson's use of historical parlance will be rewarded with a challenging perspective onAmerican history. Ages 14 up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[M]ore awe-inspiring reinterpretations of America's birth....Even more present in this volume are passionate questions, directly relevant to teens' lives, about basic human struggles for independence, identity, freedom, love, and the need to reconcile the past." Booklist (Starred Review)
"I believe Octavian Nothing will someday be recognized as a novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called 'encyclopedic' in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensive and deeply textured pattern." Jerry Griswold, The New York Times Book Review
"Elegantly crafted writing in an 18th-century voice, sensitive portrayals of primary and secondary characters and a fascinating author's note make this one of the few volumes to fully comprehend the paradoxes of the struggle for liberty in America." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] brilliant, affecting, and philosophical sequel....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 (Starred Review)
"More cohesive than the first book, it is a wonderfully written story with immersive descriptions of life during the Revolution, but it is still a challenging read that touches on some truly difficult topics." VOYA
"[T]his great, tragic, sometimes even darkly humorous tale of an extraordinary young man's experience of slavery in America is related in the language of the 18th century, making it a demanding but rewarding read." KLIATT
"Full of emotionally charged depictions of brutality, physical abuse, and prejudice, Dudley's third historical novel is a tough and painful read. Dudley's use of dialect helps immerse readers in the injustice of the story, as he risks everything in the name of freedom."
"A ferociously well-paced book. . . Dudley invites a hard look at each individual's understanding of freedom, justice, and responsibility. It is a slanting truth across over a century in which much—and little—has changed."
—VOYA, 5Q 4P J S
"Life in the chain gang is relentlessly oppressive, violent, and heartbreaking. Cy's transformation from innocence to anger and, finally, with the support of his friends, to a leader willing to take risks is compelling."
—School Library Journal
Depicting intense scenes of war and elusive visions of liberty, this astonishing sequel to the National Book Award-winning Vol. 1: The Pox Party relays Octavian's experiences with the Royal Ethiopian Regiment off the coast of Virginia.
The stunning conclusion to the National Book Award winner and New York Times bestseller recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.
The hard-hitting story of Cy Williams, 17, who suffers the horrors of a labor camp where black boys accused of crimes are sent—brutality, near starvation, humiliation, rape. Cy hatches an escape plan that involves murdering two men. Ultimately he sacrifices himself to save the life of another inmate.
Cy Williams, thirteen, has always known that he and the other black folks on Strong's plantation have to obey white men, no question. Sure, he's free, as black people have been since his grandfather's day, but in rural Georgia, that means they're free to be whipped, abused, even killed. Almost four years later, Cy yearns for that freedom, such as it was. Now he's a chain gang laborer, forced to do backbreaking work, penned in and shackled like an animal, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated by the boss of the camp and his hired overseers. For Cy and the boys he's chained to, there's no way out, no way back.
And then hope begins to grow in him, along with strength and courage he didn't know he had. Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations.
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.