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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: The Kingdom on the Waves Hardcover – October 14, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2008: With the publication of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume I back in 2006, M.T. Anderson assured readers that his gripping account of the American Revolution from the perspective of a young slave in colonial Boston would continue. Volume I received the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and the anticipation among critics and readers inevitably grew for the story to continue. Thankfully, Anderson is a man of his word. With The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves Anderson has not just delivered an equally haunting second and final act to his hero's story, he's also completed a literary masterpiece that simply blows away its limited categorization as Young Adult lit. Octavian II engages the reader (teenaged or otherwise) to reimagine the birth of the nation from an unfamiliar perspective--that of an African American slave compelled by incredible circumstance, and the hope of freedom, to fight in a counterrevolutionary army. No less than David McCullough and Joseph Ellis, Anderson turns everything you thought you knew about American history sideways. Through his expert incorporation of historical detail and colonial-era voice, the novel transports us deep into the perilous military and moral battles that defined the American Revolution. That these historical conflicts continue to inform today's charged debates about national identity and purpose makes his novels all the more relevant and powerful. --Lauren Nemroff

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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—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.—Amy J. Chow, The Brearley School, New York City
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Product details

  • Lexile Measure : 1060L
  • Grade Level : 9 - 12
  • Item Weight : 2.26 pounds
  • Hardcover : 592 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0763629502
  • ISBN-10 : 0763629502
  • Product Dimensions : 6.95 x 1.73 x 9.32 inches
  • Publisher : Candlewick; 1st Edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Reading level : 14 and up
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
44 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries

Mike Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars An original Trade Edition
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2020
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aude CHI
4.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing
Reviewed in Canada on December 1, 2013
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Steve Z. Mccauley
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in Canada on March 7, 2016
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