Title: Kindred | Author: Octavia E. Butler | Headline Publishing | Stand Alone | 5 Stars | Source: Review (Bookbridgr) | 304 Pages | Adult | Fantasy | Release Date: March 27th 2014
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor. Yet each time Dana’s sojourns become longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun
On Dana’s 26th birthday, while she is moving in to her apartment with her husband Kevin, she suddenly disappears and finds herself in a lake saving drowning child and thousands of miles from home and in the early 19th century. This is her first visit back in time and it won’t be the last. Each of her visits get longer and longer and it becomes more and more.
I have had quite a few surprise reads this year in terms of how much I enjoyed them and this is definitely one of them. As much as I saw the rave reviews, praise and recognition that Octavia E. Butler has revived from all of her books, I went in to this with quite a level head and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Even though the plot was fantastic and really enjoyed how Dana try to discover why she is going back in time and how they are linked to her, the characters themselves and the themes shone through for me.
When Dana travelled back in time, she went back to a time where slavery was in abundance and few batted an eyelid when it come to beating someone for stepping out of line. I found some of the scenes quite gruesome as well. Even though I am not hugely informed on slavery, the setting and occurrences seemed to be well executed and thought out. Race and racism is a constant theme throughout the novel. Dana is an incredibly well spoken and powerful woman. She out of place in this world and everyone can’t help but tell her that. She is discriminated against by the characters who are and are not the same race as her as they believed that she was trying to act a white.
One thing that I found interesting was how Dana and Kevin as an interracial couple are discriminated against. They suffered from it while they were back in time and also present day because their parents disapproved of their partnership. It showed how the concept of race was still an ongoing issue over 150 years later!
One of our other characters, Rufus was one of my favourites. He is described perfectly in the book as “a product of his time”. I loved seeing how growing up with beliefs placed upon him affected his initial innocence and character development. We meet him he is barely a toddler and the last time we see him he is nearly 30 so he changes an awful lot and I loved seeing that unfold.
I can’t recommend this enough. This novel packs a punch even though it stands at only just over 300 pages. It is very insightful when it comes to slavery, race and gender, well written with good pacing which never dragged and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone who reads very little adult fantasy/sci-fi, this has definitely been a gateway book for me. I will be sure to check out the rest of her books!
Goodreads Average: 4.12/5 (out of 21,350)