Book Review – Kindred by Octavia E. Butler


Originally posted on Goodreads:

Kindred tells the fictional story of an African-American woman named Dana — living in Los Angeles in 1979 — who one day finds herself suddenly transported into antebellum Maryland… where slavery is still a thing. Continually oscillating between present and past, Dana realizes that there’s a purpose to her visits, and it involves her own ancestral bloodline.

Author Octavia E. Butler combines sci-fi and historical fiction to bring slavery into a modern context. The time travel trope allows readers to experience the perceived backwardness of American society during slavery, while at the same time explore the nuanced reality of being a Black person during this time. Particularly interesting was how some of the slaves perceived Dana, who represents just how much society has (and has not) progressed post-Civil Rights era.

For better or for worse, the sci-fi element is not too strong, making it accessible and easily digestible. This is great for those looking for a good, non-convoluted story, but maybe not so great for those used to Octavia E. Butler’s more far-reaching books.

All in all, Kindred was fast-paced, engaging, and featured well-defined characters. It’s a great intro to Octavia E. Butlers writing style, and also works as a classic slave narrative with a modern twist; great for those seeking knowledge and perspective on the horrors of antebellum society.

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