Kindred by Octavia Butler

Title: Kindred
Author: Octavia Butler
Genre: Fiction / historical fiction

Rating: 5 / 5

Goodreads | Powell’s

 

So far I’ve read three of Octavia Butler’s books and they have all been SUPER EXCELLENT. Out of the 70+ books I read last year, the two of hers I read were in my top five. I recently bought a bundle of them when Amazon was having a daily deal on her stuff so…I’m sure you can tell I am excited :3

 

Here is what I loved about this book: Everything! This is such a powerful book and it’s pretty close to perfect as far as my preferences go. It works on so many levels. This book was extremely engrossing, held my attention expertly, tells a great story, explores all sorts of complicated relationships and moral dilemmas with no easy answers but tons of room for wondering about and pondering on. Her characters are fantastic and the world she creates is so real (except for the time travel…I guess) and terrifying and human (and inhuman, too, of course). And although the writing may not be lyrical or stunningly gorgeous, it had no problem bringing a certain immediacy to me. It also has that feeling that I love so much, I’m not sure there’s a word for this, but it has to do with the narrative scope and the richness of the story. It’s like how in Downton Abbey, you know there’s so much more going on than the viewer sees, so many lives being lived that the big, generalized, historical-level sweeps are the main impression, while meanwhile the attention to detail is palpable as well. Similarly, Butler doesn’t walk you through every little thing that some books do; it is easy to imagine all sorts of lives being lived around the edges of the specific, descriptive narration. My mom remarked that the book had such small print, but I was flying through it–the writing kind of melts into the background; it’s not something you notice as much as experience.

 

Something that bothers me every time I think about Ms Butler’s work is that it always gets pigeonholed as “science fiction” and only received “science fiction” awards. Margaret Atwood writes science fiction, but her books get nominated for the Booker, the Orange Prize, blah blah blah. Like…seriously? The work I’ve read by Atwood is way more science fiction-y than the stuff I’ve read by Butler, and I prefer Butler’s work so much more. It just doesn’t make any sense. At least I can be glad today that I have found a new book to put on my “favorites” bookcase.

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