With ‘Kindred’, readers observe how Octavia E. Butler’s masterly description and art of storytelling – with an easy, minimalistic flow of diction – make the book such an unputdownable piece of art. The book is a complete joy to read and has several takeaways and hidden lessons for readers to walk away with.
A Plunge in the Deep End
Octavia E. Butler – through ‘Kindred’ – dares to tackle a range of interesting topics which are considered very complicated and controversial to handle. And despite being written by a Black author, the book doesn’t show signs of pontification.
After reading ‘Kindred’, I’m left with one thought: It’s a brave and courageous book, and Butler must have been a brilliant writer of her time for going so deep and thorough on the themes in less than three hundred book pages.
Themes such as gender, violence, power, abuse, slavery, and marriage, among other things, are given a good amount of time in the book; and then there is the time travel aspect which in itself is as intricate as it is perplexing – and usually a stand-alone subject of thought.
Twenty-six years old young female protagonist Dana really does travel back in time on more than a few occasions to save her ancestor from potential life-threatening dangers which, for the most part, are caused by either Rufus himself or his mean father Tom.
Interestingly, it does seem as though Dana has the power to travel through time, but a more keen attention to the facts of the book suggests she doesn’t and is only able to do so because of being summoned somehow, someway into the 1800s by Rufus every time he’s in trouble.
However, Dana does have greater control over departing Rufus’ messy world and back to her own 1976 timeline, and this is usually when she feels afraid or becomes terrified for her life. Butler certainly gets readers in deep water with ‘Kindred’ but is also kind enough to salvage the story in ways that are verifiable and realistic.
The Precariousness of Racial Injustice
Butler is one of the first science fiction genre writers to unite gender, ethnicity, and race with the intricacies of time travel. And although her book ‘Kindred’ is mostly classified as belonging to sci-fi, interracial matters clearly top the list of important agendas discussed for the most part of the book.
In ‘Kindred’, Butler tries to compare life and the whole living conditions in two distinct realities – first is Dana’s present time of 1976, and second is Rufus’ era of the early 1800s. From a reader’s standpoint, it’s clear that the biggest cause of social instability in both timelines is racism – a concept to which the practice of slavery came to be born.
While policies have greatly improved interracial relationships in Dana and Kelvin’s world, it is a lot worse in Rufus’ world, and this is a major reason readers will notice a streak of political, socio-economic, and socio-psychological backwardness in Rufus’ time.
A Transgenerational Lesson for Posterity
Despite a torturous description of a world where one race dominated over the other – followed by a subsequent sufficing of actions that are abusive as they are dehumanizing, for posterity, the most important take away from Butler’s groundbreaking book ‘Kindred’ is the need for all of the human race to stand together in unity, and recognize that we are first of all humans – before we are Black or white.
How good a book is ‘Kindred’ for readers?
‘Kindred’ is an award-winning novel and considered perhaps the greatest work of prolific writer Octavia E. Butler. This makes it worthwhile for readers – especially if you love books about time travel, family, and interracial marriages.
What lesson can be gleaned from Butler’s book ‘Kindred’?
Unity is a strong message subtly passed across by Butler to her readers. There’s a call to unite and bury differences in others to attain a more progressive human society.
How long does it take the average reader to start and finish the novel ‘Kindred’?
‘Kindred’ is a book with less than three hundred pages, so it shouldn’t take more than a few hours reading a day for the average person.
Kindred Review: We Were Humans First, Before We Became Black or White
‘Kindred‘ by Octavia E. Butler is a courageous book that dares to unite all people – irrespective of skin color, ethnicity, and gender. The book does so by showing readers the height of humanity’s disunity and how unpretty it could be, and then hints at the beauty and progress a united human race can become. It’s an award-winning book with several appraisals from top publishers and authors. It’s a book to not miss out on.
- Courageous narrative
- Promotes unity
- Easily readable
- Replete with violent scenes
- Slightly vague climax
- Not fact-based