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review 2017-07-08 16:34
Review: Kindred by Octavia Butler
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler

 

 

As part of the TBR Canine Jar Challenge, Kindred was chosen by Enya

Kindred is her third pick from the jar this year,

her previous picks being The Exorcist and Middlesex

 

 

 

I went into this expecting it to blow my socks off as I've seen many people raving about it, but that's not what happened. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, it was engaging, the plot was great, and I flew through it in no time, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

 

The writing was simplistic and easily readable. It didn't require much concentration or dedication to get through and I wasn't expecting that. I don't know if I am disappointed because my expectations were too high, or because the author approached the important topics of race relations and slavery using such simplistic language and writing style.

 

I went into it with something more complex in mind, a deeper hard to read story and message, but I feel it was overly simplified and somewhat dumbed down in order to entertain or make it a lighter read. I highly doubt it was used as a plot device for entertainment purposes, but at times it felt that way. Perhaps it's a victim of its time, had it been written more recently this wouldn't have been the case as today's readers are more open to the truth of the brutality and realism of slavery.

 

The above makes it sound like I didn't enjoy it, I did and I'm keen to read more by Octavia Butler, but I'm left with questions. The time travel just happens, there's no explanation given for Dana being pulled back in time. How was Rufus able to pull Dana back to his time? What effect did her interactions with her past relatives have on her present timeline, family, and bloodline?

 

 

 

 

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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review 2017-07-07 01:21
Kindred
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler

I know, it's about time right? It seemed like everyone was reading this a while back and I know that it isn't exactly a new book to begin with. I wanted to read it because of all the reviews and rave it was getting but had this gnawing fear that I would hate it. But then I listened to Bloodchild and other Stories by Octavia E. Butler and fell a little in love with her. I realized, though I should have trusted all the good reviews flooding in, that this was not about to be the same fictionalized book set in the antebellum South designed to make me feel sorry for slaves, hate slave owners, or convince me that there were really plenty of really nice slave owners. Butler goes a long way to introduce a lot of nuance and dimension to her antebellum characters that I'm not accustomed to reading about.

*And that's about all that I can muster for a spoiler free section of this review. Proceed if you've already read it or know the story.*

I loved the way Butler used Rufus and Dana to show the dynamic of both slave and slave owner and the ways they could play off each other. I appreciated that Rufus grew into his atrocities as he learned that being like his father could get him what he wanted. He learned how to manipulate and abuse along the way while somehow maintaining the delusion that his way was overall best. At the same time, I love that he listened to Dana for so long and that he didn't want to sell off slaves or separate families. He didn't really have compassion but he was also wading into being monster instead of jumping in like its easy to assume. We got to watch him descend into it because he could, which I always thought of as one of the scary things about living in an environment like that.

I loved Dana's introspection on everything in the past and how she felt it was easier to assimilate than she anticipated but I also loved Kevin's disgust with the family and his inability to tolerate people of the time while he was left behind. It was interesting that he had been alone there for so long and that the changes he went through didn't seem to change his feelings for Dana or about the beliefs of the time but that it all did affect him. I loved that he kept searching for a place for himself because nothing there fit while maintaining communications with the family in hopes of Dana's return.

For as much as the story revolved around Dana and Rufus, most of the slaves were well developed. Butler made it easy to understand how one might stay in that environment and what made running so much more dangerous even while staying was slowly killing you (or not so slowly in some cases). But I also appreciated that she introduced slave owners worse than Rufus's father to not ignore the range of the atrocities committed against the slaves and free blacks to not ignore that they existed either. Not that Rufus's father was depicted as a particularly benevolent slave owner like they are in many books written at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Then there's the story and the time travel. The involuntary nature of the time travel was great for moving the story forward and for getting Dana to where she needed to be. I wouldn't imagine the antebellum South would be an intentional destination for any time traveler who could oppressed in it's time, so I get that it had to be involuntary. At the same time, the involuntary way she came back to her present seemed to make every conflict more tense.

The delicate balance that Dana had to ride in the past between her need to be born in the first place and to preserve the life that she had made her decisions more interesting. I appreciated that she didn't want to tell Alice to go to Rufus or not to. She left her survival up to Alice's horrible decision alone. While it may have been tempting to influence Alice for her own survival, she knew she'd regret it. She probably knew that Alice was going to do it anyway because it was the unfortunate best alternative in her situation, even though it was horrible. When I first read that Rufus was white and her ancestor, a big part of me hoped that it was going in a different, less believable direction. The story really resonates with honesty in a way that none of the other antebellum South stories I've read ever have, not when it comes to the slave/slave owner dynamic.

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text 2017-07-01 15:14
On sale
The Terror - Dan Simmons
Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident - Donnie Eichar
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley
Night Train to Lisbon: A Novel - Pascal Mercier,Barbara Harshav
Mornings in Jenin Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 Reprint edition - Susan Abulhawa
Fledgling - Octavia E. Butler
Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes - Michael Sims
Medicus - Ruth Downie

On sale this month for kindle US.  

 

Also several Marvel masterworks

 

The Terror is slow, but good.

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review 2017-06-12 00:58
Bloodchild and other stories
Bloodchild: And Other Stories - Octavia E. Butler

This is the first of Butler's work that I've read, or listened to in this case. The narrator is Janina Edwards. I listened to it on the Prime Channel "Worlds Away: Sci-Fi Classics" and am so glad I saw it there. I decided to make this my Task 22 for Read Harder 2017, Read a collection of stories by a woman. I was going to use another book, and though that one fits, the stories are actually part of a series that I haven't read yet, which made it hard for me to keep up with.

Sci-fi is my preferred genre in fiction but reading challenges and the desire to read more diverse authors has pulled me away from it in recent years. I've found some great books that I am so glad to have read and a love for historical fiction I never thought I'd have. But this book is full of some of my favorite things about my favorite genre and written by prolific author that I'm glad I can go back to for more worlds.

Each story had its own world to build, though most took place right here on Earth. I enjoy stories on far off planets are alternate worlds but rarely have I read any that sit so well in this in between space. These world could be called dystopian, which there are plenty of, but most of these stories take place in that early transition from the world we know to something radically different like the Hunger Games. It sits in the same in between as the Walking Dead in most cases.

Of the stories, of which there were seven, none let me down at all. Sometimes short story collections have one or two stories that aren't up to par with the others but all the worlds were different and engaging. This, of course, doesn't meant that I am without my favorites. I found "Book of Martha" and "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" were favorites.

Butler's stories that revolved around alien contact and the way we might live with that were interesting in a way that was completely new for me. I love that she was toying with the idea that we would have invaders that didn't want to exterminate us and that we couldn't exterminate. I loved the 'silent war' that took place in one story. Mostly, what I enjoyed about these cohabitation stories was the concessions that both sides may have to make, what might develop from it.

My favorite thing about this collection is that each story made you think about the world, our responses to change or unavoidable situations. These are the things that I love about science fiction the most. I already had Kindred on my list to read for Litsy A to Z but I'm sure I'll be coming black to Octavia Butler over the years for my sci-fi fix.

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text 2017-05-01 22:35
April 2017 Round up!
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Johann Thorsson,Max Booth III,Glen Krisch,Jessica McHugh,Kealan Patrick Burke,Mark Matthews,Jack Ketchum
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler
Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden
Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton
Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King,Norman Prentiss,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Joyce Carol Oates
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown
The Dark Tower, Volume 4: Fall of Gilead - Peter David,Stephen King,Richard Ianove,Robin Furth
You Will Know Me - Megan Abbott
People of the Sun - Jason Parent

I read 20 books during April! That might be a personal record!

 

Graphic Novels:

 

The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

The Dark Tower: The Battle of Jericho Hill

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (The Journey Begins)

American Vampire: Volume 4

 

Total: 5

 

Audio Books: 

 

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The Late Breakfasters by Robert Aickman

Nightmares and Geezenstacks by Fredric Brown

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

 

Total: 4 

 

E-ARCS 

 

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

Ararat by Christopher Golden

Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall

Jericho's Razor by Casey Doran

Dark Screams: Volume 6

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Just Add Water by Hunter Shea

 

Total: 7

 

Random Books 

 

At the Cemetery Gates: Year One

Nightmare of the Dead by Vincenzo Bilof

People of the Sun by Jason Parent

Soles by Kay Brandt

 

Total: 4

 

Total Books Read in April: 20

 

 

Reading Challenges

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

Running Count: 3

 

Coolthulhu Crew 2017 Challenge: 

Goal: Read Horror Books!

 

January Books: 5

February Books: 3 

March Books: 4

April Books: 9

 

Running Count: 21

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017  

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

Running count: 17

 

Keep Calm and Read On!

 

 

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