Octavian Nothing

Octavian Nothing Book Review

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There were several components of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing that captured the readers’ attention. Anderson’s style definitely pertains to a specific targeted audience whom would most likely appreciate his quirky style. There were some satisfactory factors that went into the completion of this novel such as the plot and characterization. However, the style, particularly the use of vocabulary, and choice of language was poorly executed, which assisted in earning this novel a less than satisfactory rating.

Anderson created quite an elaborate plot and, for the most part, an interesting one that contained both pros and cons. Although it was an average plot, it seemed as though the audience found themselves waiting for a story line to pick up and advance. The first half of the book (roughly) seemed to actually lack a plot, making the first one hundred pages or so descriptive more than anything else. However, the chapters that followed the initial portion of this book seemed to become more interesting, and slightly warped and bazaar. These twisted ideas definitely led to the book’s overall interesting tone.

One component of this book that was very well done was the characterization. Each character was quite vividly described, and it was apparent that each one served a specific purpose according to their personalities and rolls in the story line. Although the majority of the characters were often referred to by number rather than using and actual identity, each individual was distinct and easily distinguished throughout the novel. Anderson used a very predictable technique in going about the description of the characters in Octavian by simply listing their physical characteristics in a “telling” rather than “showing” method. Because the other elements of Octavian Nothing were so complicated and abstract, however, this was probably the most ideal and effective way to describe each person.

The setting in which this story took place was quite fitting for both the general mood of the novel, and the overall gloomy tone that Anderson created from page one. The somewhat eeriness of the colossal mansion there Octavian’s story began fed the readers with a mysterious feel for the book, matching up with its chilling chain of events. Time was also somewhat relevant and lined up with the historical aspect as far as what was taking place in world history throughout the storyline.

Unfortunately, the word choice and phrasing that Anderson used was disappointing. There never seemed to be a flow about the writing style, and inevitably read as extremely choppy. His choice in vocabulary and sentence structure was for lack of a better term, stringy, and his sentences seemed to go on for pages. Readers found themselves rereading several passages due to the unnecessary description. Anderson’s raw thoughts were often lost in an irrelevant jumble of words. The style was a major fault in this novel.

Like many novels, Octavian Nothing had its ups and downs, but came up short of overall expectations. There were a few nice elements to this book and unfortunately some not so pleasing, reigning in at just below satisfactory level.

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