Title: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party
Author: M.T. Anderson
First published September 12, 2006
384 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780763653767 (ISBN10: 0763653764)
M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking novel set in Revolutionary Boston. Young Octavian is raised by a group of rational philosophers who conduct hideous experiments behind closed doors, and it is only after Octavian opens a forbidden door that he realizes his own chilling role in their experiments.
As Patriots fight for liberty and African slaves are entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they may never obtain, Anderson’s imaginative and intelligent exploration of America’s ambiguous origins will leave readers eagerly anticipating the sequel. This book is a deeply provocative reimagining of the past that resonates eerily with readers today.
About the Author
Anderson is an author who writes picture books for children and novels for young adults. He currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Some of Anderson’s notable picture books include Handel Who Knew What He Liked, Strange Mr. Satie, The Serpent Came to Gloucester, and Me, All Alone, at the End of the World. Among his young adult novels are Feed, Thirsty, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, and Symphony for the City of the Dead.
Additionally, he has authored novels for middle grade readers, including The Pals in Peril series and its sequel.
M.T. Anderson’s first volume of “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation” is a stunning and thought-provoking piece of historical fiction. Anderson, a prolific YA author, turns his attention to the story of a young boy living in 18th century Boston, who is raised in a luxurious and unusual environment.
The novel is set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, and Anderson’s writing carefully weaves together themes of race, class, and social order that are still relevant today. Though marketed as a YA novel, “The Pox Party” is a complex work of literature that will appeal to readers of all ages.
The book follows Octavian, a young black boy who is raised in a scientific experiment by a group of philosophers who believe they can create the perfect human being. As Octavian grows up, he begins to question the nature of the world around him, and the experiment that has shaped his entire life.
The novel’s strength lies in Anderson’s masterful writing. The prose is rich and elegant, and Anderson carefully builds a sense of tension and foreboding throughout the book.
His characters are complex and layered, and the relationships between them are always engaging. The novel’s historical setting is also incredibly well researched, and Anderson’s attention to detail brings the world of 18th century Boston to vivid life.
He doesn’t shy away from the brutal realities of slavery and racism, and his novel serves as a powerful reminder of the darker chapters of American history. The only real criticism of the novel is that it is quite slow-paced, and some readers may find it a little too dense.
However, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent work. Overall, “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party” is a beautiful and engrossing novel that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished it.
It is a must-read for anyone interested in American history, and a masterpiece of YA literature. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.