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Parent reviews for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party

Common Sense says

Slavery-themed award-winner is a challenging teen read.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews
Adult Written bycarlrosin May 28, 2011

Complex novel that challenges its readers in many ways

Challenges well-loved myths about America: slavery is an ugly, hypocritical truth during the push for "liberty"; economic/market concerns interfered with the nation's ethical considerations; the Enlightenment had an ugly irrational side; the Revolution was not quite so clean as "good guys beat bad guys" (e.g., England may have been more enlightened than the colonies about slavery); etc. I think this is a wonderful development, because it gets us to think critically about those glossy myths, but these much-needed epiphanies could be painful for a reader who believes that America is exceptional and exclusively good. This novel will also help build strong context/content knowledge, but could be a huge struggle for a reader who has a shaky grasp of history and/or geography, and especially one not familiar with the often-beautiful but syntactically dense and vocabulary-rich 18th century style, which Anderson uses to great effect.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Positive Messages
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Language
Adult Written bySuzieS February 17, 2011

Not for everyone, but it deserves an audience

The subject matter is disturbing and aimed at the serious, thoughtful reader.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Parent of a 4 year old Written byThe Understudy March 15, 2010

Gross at Times but Wonderful in Parts

I read this book in class for an assignment, and found most of the book to be enjoyable, but some parts to be absolutely astonishing. Some of the chapters I had to skip and have a friend summarize for me because the pages were just too gruesome to bare. Octavian and his mother are brutally beaten and attacked. Octavian is forced into a mask and is violently ill, choking on his own vomit... but, besides the few innapropriate and disgusting scenes, the book was very informational, and an ok read.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Parent of a 10 year old Written byMrRoberts October 10, 2009

Deeper concepts from a challenging read.

This book demonstrates the extreme side of Enlightenment philosophy. The vocabulary used is excellent as is the style; the book is written in the style fitting the setting. The book is brutal, but brings up issues of science that are still relevant. The concept of slavery is also there for discussion. Another age appropriate discussion theme is the search for identity. Coupled with its sequel, the title character is on a quest for who he is, both in name and in action.

This title contains:

Educational Value