Friday 31 March 2017

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Book Title: Kindred
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: Sci-Fi
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Paperback from the library

Amazon UK, Goodreads

Goodreads Summary: 
On her 26th birthday, Dana and her husband are moving into their apartment when she starts to feel dizzy. She falls to her knees, nauseous. Then the world falls away.

She finds herself at the edge of a green wood by a vast river. A child is screaming. Wading into the water, she pulls him to safety, only to find herself face to face with a very old looking rifle, in the hands of the boy's father. She's terrified. The next thing she knows she's back in her apartment, soaking wet. It's the most terrifying experience of her life ... until it happens again.

The longer Dana spends in 19th century Maryland - a very dangerous place for a black woman - the more aware she is that her life might be over before it's even begun.
What did I think?

Let me start by saying something negative: as a sci-fi novel I didn't really enjoy this one. It has a predictable and simple plot and is just not very interesting. The time travel just happens, isn't explained and doesn't seem to follow any rules.


It is interesting and frightening, downright frightening, to read about a modern (well, 1976) black woman who suddenly finds herself in the 19th century.

Butler uses this novel to talk about a not so great period in American history and by using time travel she can do so from the point of view of a woman who grew up in a world where slavery is abolished and it is painful to read how shocked and outraged she is at how she's being treated.

After a while she realises where she is and most importantly when she is and it dawns on her why she's being treated this way and that she's in a hell of a lot of trouble...

And even though she knows why she's being treated this way, she is, obviously, still horrified and the reader is horrified alongside her.

As the reader you get to ask yourself a very important question: how would I have behaved if I'd been alive in the 19th century.

"I never realised how easily people could be trained to accept slavery."

An important book, well worth a read.

The reason I picked this one up was Uma's fantastically diverse read-a-thon over at Books.Bags.Burgers.


  1. This sounds like an interesting read. A little disappointing on the sci-fi/time travel front, but it seems as though the book is less a sci-fi novel and more a look at historical study on race. I can imagine her time in the 19th century definitely is horrifying and probably difficult to read at times.


    1. Yes, I think that's exactly it :) Very horrifying and difficult to read. Especially because where I grew up (Switzerland) we were never really exposed to the history of slavery. We learn about Nazis and Hitler mostly, and the wars in Europe and the Romans and Greek. It was such an abstract concept... obviously we know slavery was a thing but I think it doesn't go beyond an abstract horrifying concept. Reading such an intimate tale was shocking.