Science Fiction is my favorite genre of literature, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was led to the Science Fiction section of the bookstore when I asked if they had the book. To be honest, that was the last section I would have expected to find the book. It’s not that I had judged the book by its cover, but science fiction was lowest on the list of genres I imagined the book might have been. This did however peak my interest in the book and I found myself excited to read it
The book was Kindred, written by Octavia E. Butler and published in Nineteen Seventy Nine. The story follows Dana, a twenty six year old black woman living in Los Angeles in nineteen seventy six who is suddenly transported back in time to the antebellum south. Dana soon finds out that her purpose in being drawn back in time is to protect a distant ancestor who happens to be the son of a slave holding plantation owner.
Although being classified as science fiction, Butler only uses the time traveling aspect as a vehicle to tell the story. Each section of the book focuses on an excursion to and from her ancestor’s plantation. The structure of the story and the pace of each section make the book very easy to read.
There is no “happy ending” in Kindred. Most of the characters suffer bitter tragedies throughout the story and we are left with no resolution to, or explanation for the events in the book. This however was a great way for Butler to tell the story that she wanted to tell. It speaks to the dark themes of power, weakness, sacrifice and selfishness and how there might not ever be a happy resolution to these things.
I liked this book a lot.