Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1 The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

I'm probably going to make a lot of important people angry with this one, but here goes.

I didn't like this novel. In fact, I can almost use the word hate. I can't believe this is a Printz honor book. To me, it's nothing compared to previous honor winners. Yes, the book is historical. The plot line of the novel is pretty cool. I like that Octavian is a slave who doesn't know that he is a slave and is brought up as a prince learning Greek and Roman in the American colonies. I like that he doesn't know he's an object of experimentation. And I do like that Anderson used old vocabulary. But, for some reason, the book did nothing for me. I listened to the audio version and wanted to stop after listening to the first CD (there were 7). But I had to try to figure out why the book won so many awards. I guess the book is "literary" and maybe that's why it won. But my high school readers don't like it very much. In fact, it's been sitting on my shelf (propped up) for several weeks now and no one checks it out.

I appreciated Feed by the same author. That dreary futuristic book really caught my attention, especially with all the cuss words. :-) But I'm dreading volume 2 of this one. I'll buy it. But for some reason, I am not looking forward to reading it. I really can't believe I didn't like this one. The idea of a pox party and other elements of the plot are really fantastic, but I had to force myself to finish listening to the novel. So, maybe someone can help me understand why this one won so many awards. Because it's about such an obscure historical topic? Because one sentence in the book is 8 lines and a whole paragraph? Because the author used letters home from a minor character and 1st person narrative to tell the story? Why did it win the National Book Award?

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