Book Review: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Heya,



I know that I said I would be reading books by different black authors – as a part of my Black Literature intensive – but I just can’t stop reading Octavia E. Butler. I’m not sure if I’m just more open to science fiction, and speculative fiction, now that I’m an adult or what but I love it. With every book I read in this genre, I’m drawn away from romance, thriller, domestic thriller, and even memoir! It feels almost impossible that I didn’t start reading them until now. Reading or writing!

Kindred is about a black woman living in the ’70s who unwillingly travels to the past. During her time in the past, she’ll become a slave, deal with assaults (physical and verbal), and learn the truth of her ancestors. The book tackles interracial couples, the tensions between white and black people in the 1800’s, gender roles, societal expectations and so much more.

I listened to Kindred (because the Parable of the Sower series worked so well via Overdrive) and it was phenomenal. All of her narrators have been amazing so far. Or maybe it’s because I’m alone in Florida without a black community or family supporting me, that I always feel like I’m getting a hug from black narrators. I knew from the first twenty minutes that I wouldn’t stop listening until the story was over.

The characters are strong with depth and purpose. Every character felt important, and every scene was beautifully written. I aspire to her level of style. It’s like the ‘minimalism’ of writing. Every chapter and every scene pushed the story forward. There were no chapters that drug, making me want to skip ahead or roll my eyes. It held me enraptured from beginning to end.

I feel such a kindred spirit in Butler. All the things I want to say about the world, she does. All the solutions I’ve come up with are expertly addressed in her work. I love this novel and I’d love to own a physical copy. Maybe that’ll be the next gift I give myself.

I think I’m going to read Fledgling next, although I’m not sure how to feel about the synopsis. It’s…weird. But at this point, I’m willing to read anything she’s ever written. The other day my mother-in-love told me she was listening to a podcast that mentioned Butler, one that described her writing as genius, and we spent a hefty amount of our Zoom time discussing the topic.  

I’d love to discuss this author with you: Have you read any of her books? Do you have any thoughts on Fledgling? What about comparable authors? After I finish Octavia E. Butler, I’d love to read more black authors writing in the same genre. Do share!

Good Readdance,

Jade

Link to Book