My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers. Continue on at your own risk!
This was book 5/6 of my vacation reads. I love Octavia Butler, but I have put off reading this book because it’s about slavery. I like to read for entertainment (not education), and I just don’t find slavery entertaining AT ALL. It’s not something I want to read about, it’s not something I want to watch on TV. Did Octavia Butler change my mind? Here is what I thought…
A ‘modern’ (1970’s) black woman (Dana) gets randomly ‘pulled’ into the past by her great-great-great(?) grandfather Rufus, in the 1800’s (he is the son of a slave master on a plantation in Maryland). Every time she gets pulled back, his life is in danger and she saves him. Each time she is pulled back she stays until she is really scared and moves back into the future. This happens several times from the time when Rufus is about 7 until the time he is an old man (and she kills him).
Plot Score: 2/5
I wondered if Octavia Butler was going to build a ‘Django Unchained’ type of alternate slavery world, but she did not. Whenever Dana gets pulled to the past, she has to suffer the horrors of slavery- including being whipped and seeing others whipped, hard labor, and expected deference to her ‘masters’. The author did a good job of illustrating the desperation of that time.
World Building Score: 3/5
Characters and Relationships
Dana- It was interesting to see how Dana changes over the book, and ‘gets used’ to slavery. And is even reminded by other slaves that she was acting too ‘house’. “She didn’t kill, but she seemed to die a little.”
Rufus- I had hopes (as did Dana) that he would be different then the other slave owners, but there was nothing stable about his thought process.
Kevin- Dana’s white husband, who accidentally goes back with her to the past (which is helpful cause he posed as her owner) ends up getting stuck in the past for 5 years, and almost killed trying to help free slaves. The experience seems to take a bigger toll on Kevin than on Dana.
Characters Score: 4/5
Slavery sucks. “Slavery was a long so process of dulling”
Life Lessons Score: 3/5
Defining Quote: “He was like me-a kindred spirit crazy enough to keep on trying.”
I thought the book was written well. The subject is what overwhelmed the enjoyability of the book.
Style Score: 4/5
-Bonus Beach Read Score: 0/5- No one wants to read about slavery on the beach.
-“That’s history. It happened whether it offends you or not.”
Total Score and Recommendation
-16/25- Good book, but not for me.