Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life.
During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she's been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.
Author Octavia E. Butler skilfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice with an exciting science-fiction, romance, and historical adventure. Kim Staunton's narrative talent magically transforms the listener's earphones into an audio time machine.
©2000 Octavia Butler; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC
"[Kindred] is a shattering work of art with much to say about love, hate, slavery and racial dilemmas, then and now." (Los Angeles Herald Examiner)
"Truly terrifying." (Essence)
"Butler's literary craftsmanship is superb." (The Washington Post Book World)
I had not read any work by Octavia Butler prior to her death - I wasn't really interested in Sci-Fi. This book was an enjoyable read, not traditional sci-fci but part social commentary and part history lesson. You can really feel the characters (great narrator) and feel empathy for all of them. I had a very different perspective of the time period after listening to this book.
At first, I thought I had purchased a time travel novel for young adults. As I listened, I realized that the story presented a pretty accurate view of life in Antebellum South for the African American slave. It is presented through the eyes of a modern African American woman and it was eye opening. I've always enjoyed a touch of time travel and that was handled very well by the narrator so that you realized when you were in various times. Also, check into the authoress. She is quite famous in her own right and knowing about her added to the novel in my opinion. I definitely would consider this book. It is not preachy; it is just a good novel about someone who finds herself in the pre-Civil War south.
I have read many of Octavia's books so I was excited to see one of them here. Wish they had more, I would get them all. Anyway this book is very good and the reader is excellent. I didn't have any trouble keeping track of the characters even with one reader. The book is surreal and enveloping. You don't know what to think or what might happen. The book is disturbing at times because part of it occurs in the 1800s during slavery. This book is great stuff!!
This is pretty much a historical novel with a bit of SF icing, focusing almost exclusively on the relationships built between a mid-1970's modern black woman who is continually sent back in time to save an ancestor from an early death.
Kindred's writing style doesn't use a lot of flowery speech and metaphors, but it's enjoyable and straight to the point. It's impressive the range of topics which it covers. I actually wish that I could have been assigned this book in high school, because I'd love to get an academic take on it.
Every reading is an interpretation in a way. This reading strove very hard for a long time to avoid any interpretation. She does a fine job with the accents but can't seem to get into the emotional state of the protagonist. What it ends up being is overly cheery and overly enunciated, as though it were being read to children.
But the story itself is engrossing.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Octavia Butler's Kindred is a terrible, fascinating, and moving novel, so vivid in its examination of the Southern slave system and its negative effects on slaves (especially) and masters (subtly). Butler puts her protagonist Dana Franklin, a contemporary African American woman, into incredibly difficult physical, moral, and existential situations via time travel to the antebellum Maryland plantation of her ancestors. Although there is no scientific explanation for the time travel, Butler's depiction of life on a slave plantation is convincingly detailed and realistic.
Kim Staunton does a marvelous job reading Kindred. Her natural voice is just right for Dana's warm, thoughtful, and honest first-person narration. Staunton effortlessly reads the voices of various characters, from an educated Southern Californian black woman of the 1970s to a Maryland slave or slave-owner of the early 19th century. There are moments of intense suspense and horrific violence, as well as moments of melting kindness and (nearly) redemptive understanding.
That I, a white man, had no trouble empathizing and identifying with Butler's black, female protagonist narrator Dana, but that I also uncomfortably found myself thinking that I would probably be at least as bad a master as Rufus Weylin, agreeing with Dana's white husband that life for the slaves on the Weylin plantation was not as bad as it could be (which meant that I was to some degree taking too lightly their pain living it), and longing for an impossibly happy ending, all testify to Butler's skill as a writer.
This book should be read by anyone who thinks that slavery really wasn't so bad after all or that the past is past. It should be read by anyone who wants to experience a powerful and absorbing story read by an excellent actress-reader.
The story line should have lent itself to a great tale. It did not. It was simplistic, sometimes silly. For example, the time travelers assumed the people in the era they visited were somehow ignorant because they did not "understand" things the way they did. Also, it was ridiculous that Rufus accepted that Dana was a time traveler so easily. I actually went back to see if it was categorized as a young adult genre - it was not. The narrator better suited to reading a children's book. Her narration added a frustration to an already superficial story. I can only recommend this book to someone that wants a book that requires little effort.
I recently listened to Dawn by the same author and I really enjoyed it. The plot device here is time travel that takes us to the early 1800s into a plantation with slaves. It really is not sci-fi. Instead it is historical fiction without anything that I found new or surprising. The narration was weak. The narrators voice was pleasant but not interesting. She did the accents well but it isn't enough to outweigh the rather rote reading. I will not listen to her again.
I really enjoyed this book, had to listen away from my daughter due to occasional language, but it was very well done and thought provoking as well!
This is obviously a classic sci-fi novel, so I'm sure people will be well aware of its importance in general (This is a really good general review of the book: http://brownfemipower.com/archives/329) . But this is also a fantastic reading, I was on tenterhooks from beginning to end...
"Powerful and challenging"
A solid and nuanced performance, and a book that grips you, even when it goes to the most challenging places a human narrative can go. There's no simple moralising, no easy-to-swallow hero's struggle, just an uncomfortably honest and sometimes brutal exploration of what having complete social power over another human being means. The fantastical framing isn't wasted either, it forms a subtle symbolism and a gentle entry point for the events of the book, without ever overwhelming the human drama or dulling the impact of the story. Needs to be listened to!!
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