Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Book Review)
This post contains affiliate links.
A Butler-sized Book Hangover
Have you ever had a book hangover? It's when you finish a book and it leaves such an intense mark on your life that you are a bit unfocused and unable to continue on with your day. It changes the way you exist in the world even though the world is exactly the same. My last book hangover came from Octavia Butler's most notable work about time travel, family ancestry, and sacrifice, Kindred.
Butler is known throughout the science fiction world as the Dame of Science Fiction. She is the first writer in this genre to receive the McAuthor Foundation “Genius” grant. She is one of my favorite writers because the worlds she creates are vivid and timely, even though all of her published works are in our past.
Kindred is the story of Dana, a Black woman living in the 70s era Los Angeles. She is unpacking boxes at home when all of a sudden she disappears, and fall into the 1800s of the Pre-Civil War South. Before she can figure out what is going on, she saves a small white child’s life but is almost killed herself. Then she immediately returns home to her time period, but things only get weirder after that...
This book is phenomenal. I loved the writing and the storytelling, even though I don't know if I can say I "loved" the story.
Kindred is haunting and honest, but I had moments of frustration while reading it. I loved the character Dana but couldn’t reconcile some of the decisions she made. Her motivations centered on staying alive and keeping her family together, but once you realize what that means, there are never any right answers.
Butler doesn’t shy away from how people lived during this era and it’s one of the most accurate depictions of slavery I have ever read. There is so much physical and mental violence but these scenes show the strength it took to live through this time and it gives the main character, Dana, more depth because she doesn’t run from it.
I quickly read the graphic novel version (in its entirety) the day after I devoured the original novel. I relived every harsh moment in full color thanks to Damian Duffy and John Jennings. I envisioned the scenes differently than they did but I enjoyed the book all the same.
I would recommend both books for readers who enjoy both mediums. The topics and subject matter can be tough but if you’ve never read Butler before you will be in for a treat.
If you haven’t read Kindred, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. If you have, how did you feel about it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author
Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to fill your bookshelves with beloved authors of the African Diaspora. When she's not hanging out online, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.