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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
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From School Library Journal
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- 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
- Best Sellers Rank: #614,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Continuing the story of Octavian Nothing, following his escape from The Novanglian College of Lucidity, the book begins as he, along with his tutor Dr. Trefusis, seeks safety in Boston. With the city under siege, Octavian decides to cast his lot with the British who promise freedom to rebel-owned slaves joining the King's forces. However, as the Revolutionary War progresses, Octavian begins to realize that his sheltered upbringing is of little use in the midst of the struggle. Although a slave and the subject of the Novanglian College of Lucidity's experimentation, he was raised as an educated dilettante. Thus, Octavian possesses few practical skills and grows to appreciate the clever, sometimes cunning, talents that his fellow soldiers exhibit. It is during this maturing process that he begins to recognize the British promise of freedom is illusory and that he has traded one type of enslavement for another.
The novel is written as a combination of first person narrative interspersed with Octavian's journal entries; these present his view of the Revolutionary War and its import to the slaves who have chosen to side with the British. Additionally, there are excerpts from broadsides and correspondence written between British officers and between colonists which present differing perspectives on the war. M. T. Anderson's writing is complex and intelligent. Using arcane spellings and phrasing, he infuses authenticity into the fictional correspondence and journaling.
Character development moves logically through the various stages of Octavian's emotional growth. Octavian's reactions and his eventual counterrevolutionary activities are consistent with his growing maturity and understanding of his situation's reality. Anderson's portrayal of Octavian's fellow soldiers, all who have different background stories, provides the reader with a glimpse into what slaves endured in their quest for freedom. Emotion can be raw, as can the scenes involving violence against soldiers and civilians. More sensitive readers may find this aspect of the work off-putting. However, it is appropriate within the context of the novel and reinforces the authenticity of the story.
This is a fine historical novel which should be read after "The Pox Party," volume I in The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing saga. Even more mature youthful readers will find it challenging both in language and subject matter. It is definitely a five-star read and will be taking its place on my bookshelves.