Thursday, December 9, 2010

Octavian Nothing

I just finished The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Volume I: The Pox Party), which I won through a contest on Dawn's blog. Thanks Dawn!

Confession: I won it quite a long time ago. Started it. Stopped reading. Started again. Stopped reading. Started again recently because I hadn't been to the library in ages and was desperate for something to read while lying in bed at night....

This should not be taken as a reflection on the book. M.T. Anderson is clearly a genius. The book is written mostly in Octavian's eighteenth-century voice, which is no small feat. I enjoyed his writing, but it was paced more like a classic.

Don't get me wrong. I love classics. But I don't think I was prepared for the classic-feel (and the commitment it takes to finish a classic) when I started reading this particular book. Does that make any sense at all? 

I didn't read any synopses of this book before I started, so, although the beginning was interesting (because his circumstances were so unusual), I didn't understand what the main conflict was until Octavian himself figures it out (well past page 50!). Just goes to show you that geniuses can break plotting "rules" and still get starred reviews. *Go, Mr. Anderson!* (That was honestly meant to be a compliment. And, on a side note, I heard Mr. Anderson speak -- and sing -- at the SCBWI LA conference and he was brilliant.)

Click here to read the School Library Journal and Booklist reviews via Amazon.  

Have you ever read a book like this? You knew it was good, but you just had a hard time getting into it?


  1. Yeah. I have had that experience. I had that experience with Robinson Crusoe, of all books. And another book, which is now one of my top favorite books: The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

    And congratulations for the book that you won! Glad you won it! I know how fun it is to win something. :)

  2. Oh yes, The Twins was one such book, it really took me to the last word to enjoy it, but the minute I finished it I wanted to start all over again!
    Amy, I had the last Chukka cherries today, oh so yummy! thanks again.

  3. if I have a had time going through it, however good the book seems to be, I probably won't finish it. I am not as persistent as you are... I probably pick a book that I enjoy and can't resist putting down, which is not as good, instead of a really good one.

  4. I'm a fairly slow reader and so if a book takes a while to get around to the plot, I will often have lost the enthusiasm before it really gets going. I do wish I had more staying power with 'difficult to get into' books.
    By the way there's an award waiting for you on my blog :-)

  5. And he sings, too? Wow.

    A Tale of Two Cities was like that for me. A great book, but I had to push myself to read it. (But it IS a classic, so I guess I expected it.)

  6. I just finished Last Sacrifice, the final book in the Vampire Academy series. Loved the book. :D

    I've already read VA several times. Can't wait to read the whole series in one go.


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