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The Pox Party

Anderson, M. T.

(Book - 2006)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Pox Party
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Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780763624026
0763624020
Branch Call Number: y ANDERSON
Characteristics: 351 p. ;,24 cm

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Set before and during the Revolutionary War, Octavian deals with racism, war, and what it means to have free will. Satire? Historical novel? Magical realism? You decide.

Set during the American Revolution, Octavian is raised as a pampered African prince by a society of Enlightenment philosophers who view him as an experiment. Realizing that his freedom is an illusion, Octavian sets off on a journey to find freedom and a place in the world. These books will challe... Read More »

An African-American boy living in the 1700’s grows up as a part of an experiment designed to gage whether Africans have the same mental capacities as Europeans. The best “children’s” book since To Kill a Mockingbird. Extremely difficult reading, well worth the effort.
Historical Fiction.

Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

An African-American boy living in the 1700s grows up as part of an experiment designed to gauge whether or Africans have the same mental capacities as Europeans. The best American "children's" book since Huck Finn.


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Aug 28, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Set during the Revolutionary War, a young African slave named Octavian is raised by a group of enigmatic, undeniably creepy scholars in an institution called the Novanglian College of Lucidity. Octavian is schooled in Latin, Greek and the classical arts and comes to view the odd peculiarities of his upbringing as normal—until he opens a forbidden door and discovers the real reason he is being housed at the College. At times disturbing, grotesque, bizarrely funny and written in rich prose, this examination of race and rebellion will challenge readers of all ages

I loved this book, even as I suffered when the main character was abused. The ending is a terrific plot twist that lifted me up, way up! I cannot wait to read the sequel. This is a book that all Americans need to read, in my opinion.
The Pox Party is a rich and deep story of many types of people and parts of our history that are almost NEVER exposed. I taught English for a very long time, and I recommend this book highly.
I am sorry it is filed under young adult fiction. This is an important book for adults of all backgrounds. It would be perhaps shocking to a middle school student but a mature young person would be greatly educated and enriched by reading The Pox Party.
I am a life-long voracious reader, with life-long exposure to many types of books, cultures and neighborhoods. I think this book is just splendid!! I think would be an excellent book for a high school class.

It IS puzzling at first (that's a GOOD thing) but the mysteries are revealed in a good plot line. Octavian's emotional history is consistent with current psychological understanding of abused persons.
Please tell your friends about it. They'll be glad you did.

"At the dawn of the Revolutionary War, young Octavian is raised in highly unusual circumstances at the Novanglian College of Lucidity. Though the scholars give him a first-rate education, they also monitor him closely… too closely. As he grows older, Octavian learns the horrifying truth of his situation, and that truth leads him to question his understanding of himself and the Revolution: if the Patriots can fight for their freedom, why can't he fight for his? With complex, historically accurate language, this book will appeal to readers who enjoy sophisticated, unflinching storytelling. If you like Octavian Nothing, you might also be interested in Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson." Teen Scene November 2013 newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=695748

Mar 16, 2012
  • danielestes rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Sometimes I like to dive into a book without any foreknowledge of plot or context. Unfortunately, I began this book the same way and was lost and disinterested for the first 150 pages. I eventually figured out the writing is meant to emulate the speech and style of 18th century colonial America. This was a relief because I didn't understand why I was having so much trouble comprehending the language at first.

The story of Octavian is gutsy in it's style and delivery though perhaps too gutsy. It's difficult to really feel Octavian's struggles because he acts so distantly un-human too often. We learn the secret of his plight almost as he learns it, which causes us both to be confused. I literally thought Octavian's caretakers at the beginning were robots and I was reading some sort of steampunk novel.

The novel finds a better voice near the middle through to the end, but then the ending is vague. Perhaps this story is the setup for the next? Still, I don't have the interest or energy to find out.

Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Octavian’s life might be astonishing, but his story is not. Anderson tells us that Octavian has an astonishing life, but he doesn’t show us. Octavian himself doesn’t even know his life is any different than other people’s, other boys’, other blacks. Even when he figures it out – when he finds out that he’s actually a slave and not the beloved prince of a household, and suddenly made to act accordingly – nothing really changes in his demeanor, he seems quite unastonished actually.

There is a barrier between us and what might be good about this novel. There could be something astonishing here, but it’s hidden under other people’s letters driving the plot instead of the main character’s actions, in breakneck plot changes that don’t seem to bother the characters too much, and behind mysterious forbidden doors that, once opened, just result in a dry lecture by a man who changed his name to a number for very little reason and later changed it back just the same.

When you have to call your story “astonishing” in the title, it’s very likely not to be so.

Oct 20, 2011
  • tocch101 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Intriguing. Doesn't offer a concrete story line and I enjoyed the mystery, similar to life.

Aug 11, 2009
  • chiennoir rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A challenging read from the brilliant M.T. Anderson.

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acfrosie thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jul 26, 2011
  • Navy_Wren_3 rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

Navy_Wren_3 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Aug 11, 2009
  • chiennoir rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

chiennoir thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The Latin for “slave” – servus – as rendered in English literally is “the spared one”; slaves being those taken prisoner in battle, who should, therefore, by all rules of engagement, have been slain. In antiquity, slaves possessed no rights as citizens because, though spared, they were accounted dead, and as the dead, could not be admitted as living men; and so, for generations, the dead toiled and bred in Rome; the dead taught Rome’s children the secrets of philosophy; the dead built Rome’s great monuments and tombs; until the Romans themselves joined the dead, and all that remained were tombs, and monuments, and half-remembered tombs.

Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

And then they imprisoned me in darkness; and though there was no color there, I still was black, and they still were white; and for that, they bound and gagged me.

Feb 20, 2012
  • lisahiggs rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I should not be sorry, did the Lord sweep the savages further to the west; but I doubt His divine will shall ever be expressed through Virginians.

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