Friday, 4 July 2014

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

I don't usually read any books set in the world of US slavery - Uncle Tom's Cabin was just about the extent of my reading thus far. But then, Kindred isn't a typical slavey novel.

Dana is a 26-year-old woman living in 1976. She's recently married to a white man. And one day, she gets dizzy and finds herself elsewhere, watching a little boy almost-drown. She saves his life, realises she is visiting the slavery-era past and gets beamed back to 1976. Soon, the rules of her travels become transparent: whenever the boy is about to die, she is transported across space and time to save his bacon. Whenever she fears for her life in that world, she is returned to 1976.

The plot follows the logic of the story consistently, intelligently and entertainingly. The characters all seem believable. It's not challenging to read, but intelligently written with a lot of thought about what slavery is, how it works, how it changes people - both the slaves and the slave owners. It feels completely authentic and believable all the way through. It's a novel about power relationships and how power corrupts. The story is tense and gripping and smart.

In short, I'd highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5

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