Friday, January 4, 2013

I read Octavian Nothing a few years back and didn't think it was that strong of a novel, especially with all the hype it was receiving.  I think the folks that were trumpeting it along had certainly read Feed and understood Anderson's ability to communicate ideas through voice.  In Feed, Anderson successfully created a voice of an average teen in a decadent culture where corporations rule and priorities have long since been focused on superficial things.  

Feed made me rethink Octavian Nothing.  Before I thought the novel vague, never really creating a picture that was detailed enough to fully understand what the storyteller was trying to communicate.  Now I see that Anderson doesn't focus on creating a story so much as allow his characters to use their voices.  This allows readers to see the world through the character's eyes.  This might mean that we see a world that we don't fully understand.  This is precisely why I didn't like Octavian Nothing, the storyteller didn't understand the world he was in and so he was often confused.  This made the reading hard at times, cryptic even, but it created a very real character.  A character that couldn't understand slavery.  A character that couldn't understand hate and the subjugation of a people. 

I really found that perspective amazing.  To not understand hatred, subjugation and slavery is a wonderful idea.  It is a kind of revelation that steels the heart, allowing us to believe in the goodness of the world.  What does it mean that a child can not understand the depravity of men? That men have gone so far away from the way we think as children, that they can no longer be understood.  It brings hope and light to the darkest of subjects.  

Slavery? What's that?

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