Calico Reaction (calico_reaction) wrote in bookish,
Calico Reaction

Butler, Octavia E.: Kindred

Kindred (1979)
Written by: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: Science Fiction/Historical Fiction
Pages: 287 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganged from Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's ancestor. Yet each time Dana's sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: I'll be honest, this isn't a totally fair rating for several reasons. The first is that I've read other Butler books that have had an added layer of depth to them that effected me more, so this book felt a little "light" in comparison. The second is that I kept reading the book with different expectations, with my writerly brain jumping onto tangents and wondering what would happen if events were different. That's not a fair reading, and I fully intend to read this book again so that I can appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn't. All of that said, this is a very good book, and listen up: IT'S AN EXCELLENT INTRODUCTION TO OCTAVIA E. BUTLER'S WORK. If you've never read her work before? I strongly recommend starting with Kindred, and then moving on to something (anything) else of hers. It's a stand-alone novel, but doesn't fully overwhelm the reader. That's not to say that it isn't overwhelming. The horror of Dana's story is. So is the hopelessness of the past. I'm just saying that for as weird as the time traveling element is, this book isn't NEARLY as weird as her more overt science fiction books, so start with Kindred, get your bearings, and then move on. Trust me: your mind will be blown. :)

And I should point out that despite the time travel element, this book is not science fiction. You could maybe call it dark fantasy, but I prefer to use the title historical fiction with the adjectives dark and gritty and horrifying thrown in. It's horror in it's own way, and that's the beauty of Octavia E. Butler's work: she horrifies the reader with truth, and truth seeps through her pages, through her characters, through everything she puts into her writing. Kindred, in that regard, is no different than any of her other titles, and it's well worth the cash.

Review style: spoilers and lots of them. If you haven't read this yet, then there's no need to click the link below to my LJ. Otherwise, carry on! As always, comments and discussion are most welcome!

REVIEW: Octavia E. Butler's KINDRED

Happy Reading! :)


Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

March: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
April: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

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