Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Title: Kindred | Author: Octavia E. Butler | Headline Publishing | Stand Alone | 5 Stars | Source: Review (Bookbridgr) | 304 Pages | Adult | Fantasy | Release Date: March 27th 2014
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

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

Review:

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)

Want to buy it? Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Review + UK Giveaway: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Geography of You and Me | Author: Jennifer E. Smith | Headline Publishing | Stand Alone |  5 Stars Source: Review (Bookbridgr)| 352 pages | Young Adult Contemporary | Release Date: April 15th 2014
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marvelling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too

Review:

Lucy and Owen meet in a lift while there is a power cut across all of the city. When they get out of the lift they spend one night together on the roof and when the power comes back so does normality. They end up at opposite sides of the globe, one reason being Lucy’s father’s job and the other being Owen and his father trying to get over the loss of his mother and his dad trying to find work.

I didn’t know what to expect from this novel. From what I have heard about Smith’s work, they are cute, simple and quick contemporaries. Although the sound of this was appealing to me, I found that this novel did not fall in to this category and that it deserves so much more credit than that.

This novel isn’t just about a love that spans across oceans or a promising couple that has been torn about due to circumstance kept apart by geography. It is about grief, the loss of a parent, growing up in new surroundings and growing apart.

Lucy and Owen only spend around the first two chapter together. Even though didn’t expect this and I expected them to spend a lot more time getting to know each other, I am so glad it was executed in this way. It gives us time to see both of them grow up before they meet for the first time again in a few months and then when they meet again after around a year.

One thing I loved about this novel is how believable it was. Without going in to spoilery territory, their first encounter after their time apart does not go as planned. It is not as it was. I can empathize with this so much as I have moved countries and left people behind. It introduces the plausible concept of change. When you leave someone, you leave with the idea you have of them and the likelihood is that when that you see someone again after a long period of time, the person no longer correlates with the idea you had. They grow up, they change. Lucy and Owen have grown up and changed.

Another thing I adored was the relationships apart from that between Lucy and Owen. I despised Lucy’s parents to start with. They travel a lot and they always seem to leave her behind. Later on in the book we see why and you see them more from Lucy’s grown up perspective. The relationship between Owen and his father was beautiful and I am glad we got to see so much of it while they travelled across country, how they struggled finding work and with their grief. These relationships added so much depth to out main characters.

Overall I loved this read. We have a beautiful romance that spans over oceans and post cards and we have some of the most believable family relationships I have ever read. I will definitely be taking a look at Smith’s other Novels: The Statistical Probability of First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like.

Goodreads Average: 3.86/5 (out of 505 ratings)

Want to buy it?  Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Books Depository

Now for the fun part! 🙂

Headline  sent me two copies of The Geography of You and Me. So I thought I would give one away! Enter with the rafflecopter below ( you have to click the link as wordpress won’t let me show the widget and it will take you to a rafflecopter page)  for a chance to win. I am sorry but this is UK only, I canny afford the international postage! :/ There is only one mandatory option!  Thanks for entering and good luck!

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