Cover image for Octavia E. Butler's Kindred
Title:
Octavia E. Butler's Kindred
ISBN:
9781419709470
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Abrams ComicArts, 2017.
Physical Description:
vi, 240 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents:
Prologue -- The river -- The fire -- The fall -- The fight -- The storm -- The rope -- Epilogue.
Summary:
Octavia E. Butler's bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred, now in graphic novel format. More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler's mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century. Butler's most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre-Civil War South.

"Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can't explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland. But she does quickly understand why: to deal with the troubles of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder--and her progenitor. Her survival, her very existence, depends on it"--Jacket flap.
Audience:
Decoding demand: 91 (very high) Semantic demand: 100 (very high) Syntactic demand: 66 (high) Structure demand: 87 (very high) Lexile
Audience:
GN430L Lexile
Holds:

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the 2018 Eisner Award for Best Adaptation from Another Medium

Octavia E. Butler's bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred , now in graphic novel format.

More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler's mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler's most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre-Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana's own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.

Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.


Author Notes

Science-fiction writer and novelist Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California, on June 22, 1947. She earned as Associate of Arts degree from Pasadena City College in 1968 and later attended California State University and the University of California.

Her first novel, Patternmaster, was the first in a series about a society run by a group of telepaths who are mentally linked to one another. She explored the topics of race, poverty, politics, religion, and human nature in her works. She won a Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story Speech Sounds and a Hugo Award and Nebula Award in 1985 for her novella Bloodchild. She received a MacArthur Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The award pays $295,000 over a five-year period to creative people who push the boundaries of their fields. She died in Lake Forest Park, Washington on February 24, 2006 at the age of 58.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970s, is thrust backward in time to a 19th-century Maryland plantation. Over many visits to the past, she realizes that the spoiled son of the plantation owner is her ancestor, destined to father children with a slave, and she must protect his life to ensure her own existence. Butler's celebrated 1979 novel, here adapted into a graphic novel, starts with a gripping idea and builds skillfully, as both Dana and her white husband in the present are warped by slavery and become complicit in its evil. This graphic novel recaps the classic source material faithfully without adding much to justify the adaptation, although it may find some new readers. The blocky artwork lacks the subtlety to evoke the complexity of the novel or the vividness of its historical settings (in addition to the antebellum South, the adaptation preserves the 1970s setting of the "present-day" sections). It's an effective recap, clearly produced with great love and respect, but the book remains the gold standard. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

The grande dame of sci-fi's 1979 novel is still widely, deservedly popular, and this graphic adaptation will lure in even more readers. Dana is a 1970s black woman repeatedly and involuntarily whisked back in time to a nineteenth-century plantation, where she becomes embroiled in the lives of the people enslaved there, risking everything by educating their children, even as she forms an uneasy and dangerous relationship with her own white ancestor. This adoring adaptation is dense enough to fully immerse readers in the perspective of a modern woman plunged into the thick of a culture where people are dehumanized by the act of dehumanizing others. It also preserves the vivid characterizations of the time traveler, her husband, and the enslaved people and the slaveholders, making the fantastical device that sets the story in motion a springboard for deeply humane insights. The heavily shaded, thick-lined, and rough-edged art lends a grimness appropriate to a life of jagged brutality and fearful uncertainty. Both a rewarding way to reexperience the tale and an accessible way to discover it.--Karp, Jesse Copyright 2017 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

JUST IN TIME to surf the wake of the latest Star Wars film comes GALACTIC EMPIRES (Night Shade, paper, $17.99) , a collection of compact space epics anthologized by Neil Clarke and written by some of the biggest stars and up-and-comers in the genre. The 22 stories featured are all stand-alones, though several are set in pre-existing fictional universes: Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch is here, as is Neal Asher's Polity. All of the stories range widely in theme and style, sharing only the experience of sudden, sometimes jolting immersion into complex societies and exotic circumstances in the far future. There's an unavoidable tension in these mini-sagas between the need to quickly introduce readers to a bizarre setting and the need for an engaging narrative arc - but nearly all of them pull it off. The newer writers tend to take more risks and feature more engaging characters. Gwendolyn Clare's "All the Painted Stars," for example, veers away from the usual human protagonist, taking readers instead into the mind of a tentacled alien cop who must cooperate with humans to solve the mystery of a lost civilization. Aliette de Bodard's "The Waiting Stars" offers a painfully contemporary tale of young Vietnamese women taken from their own "savage" people and forcibly re-educated to serve a society of cold artificial intelligences. By contrast, the established writers tend to focus on ideas and settings more than characters, and to follow well-traveled storytelling paths. These can be fun too; one notable example is Brandon Sanderson's "Firstborn," the overlong but otherwise delightful tale of a born loser slouching along in the shadow of his military-genius older brother. One or two of the stories devolve into a travelogue, with characters and plot merely painted on for flavor, but over all this anthology is mostly hits, remarkably few misses. Highly recommended. ADAPTING ANY PROSE novel to the graphic format is an audacious undertaking at the best of times, but translating Octavia E. Butler's fearsomely powerful work in particular must surely have been a herculean task. Yet Damian Duffy and John Jennings have managed it with their version of KINDRED (Abrams ComicArts, $24.95), giving her most accessible novel - as noted in an introduction by the acclaimed science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor - fresh life. The story itself is the same one that's been studied in countless university courses on race, gender and literature since its publication in 1979. Dana, a young black woman living in modern-day California, suddenly begins traveling backward in time to the early 1800 s, where she is compelled again and again to save the life of Rufus, the scion of a Maryland plantation owner. The mechanism of her movement through time and space is never explained, and is ultimately irrelevant. What matters is that Dana must cope with the realistically depicted, gruesome horrors of slavery - which Butler in fact "cleaned up," according to a well-known 1991 interview in the journal Callaloo. Perhaps more horrifically, Dana must struggle with a fuller understanding of the damage slavery inflicted on everyone it touched, free and slave, then and now - not just violence and family disruption, but an ugly mix of societally reinforced Stockholm syndrome, toxic codependency and dehumanization. Duffy and Jennings's adaptation retains the spare, almost baroque feel of Butler's narrative, down to its ominous chapter headings (e.g., "The River," "The Fall"), rendered in all-caps on a black background. This is a story heavy in dialogue and internal narration, although some of the interiority is necessarily lost to the visual format. The art here, which is angular and line-heavy and somehow apocalyptic, fits the weight of the material perfectly. This helps to make up for narrative lost, through stark renderings of blood or vomit or the ashen skin of a hanged woman. The adaptation does not flinch from the ugliest parts of Butler's text. (Parents hoping that the graphical format may work better for teenagers, take warning.) A worthy and powerful supplement to a classic. IN A STRANGELY small galaxy, the civilized peoples of the nine inhabited planets live in constant fear of the Shotet, a tribe of fierce multiracial scavengers. After the Shotet kidnap a boy named Akos and his brother for mysterious reasons, Akos has no choice but to go native, learning how to fight and earn armor to survive. Akos has a few advantages, however, including genetically imbued language skills and, more important, a special "currentgift," or unique magical ability, which is capable of shutting down others' currentgifts. This naturally makes him useful to Cyra, sister of the tyrannical Shotet leader; Cyra's own currentgift grants her the ability to project, and experience, constant agony. Akos alone can ease her pain. That they end up a couple is hardly a spoiler. So things go in CARVE THE MARK (Katherine Tegen/HarperCoiiins, $22.99), the latest outing from Veronica Roth. Roth is the author of the best-selling Divergent series, and like those books this one seems destined - designed, even - for film adaptation. The story focuses less on Cyra than on Akos, who is by turns vulnerable, tough and talented at combat. The plot is also familiar: A young woman trapped in a brutal system must fight to win freedom for herself and her male companion, eventually fomenting a rebellion against her oppressors. The whole thing turns out to be a power struggle between roughly four factions - special families, that is, whose members are bestowed with predestined fates. There's some jumbled, vaguely science fictional worldbuilding involving spaceships and people from planets of darkness or planets of heat, but frankly Roth could've set the whole thing on a single planet and cut down on the potential special effects budget. This story is simpler than it sounds, and even more clichéd than this synopsis suggests. It will doubtless make money hand over fist. ANOTHER WORK THAT seems designed for the big screen - or more likely the small screen, given that it's organized into episodes and seasons - is bookburners: season 1 (Saga, paper, $21.99), a collaborative effort by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery. Originally produced by Serial Box as an intriguing experiment in serial fiction for mobile devices, the 16 episodes that first appeared in 2015 have now been compiled into a single volume by Saga Press. The story is fast-paced and pulpish. The police detective Sally Brooks is interrupted one night by her hapless brother, who's carrying a mysterious ancient book and is terrified he's been followed to her apartment. He's afraid of the Bookburners, a shadowy "men in black" type of organization said to hunt down rare-book thieves. After she sees her brother open the book only to become instantly possessed by an ancient malevolent entity, Sal finds herself embroiled in a whirlwind caper, occasionally terrifying, to try to save him. Naturally, she joins forces with the Bookburners, who turn out to be a special division of the Vatican Library employed to hunt down dangerous artifacts for capture and safe storage in the Black Archives. Think hackers and traveling exorcists, but for books. Turns out they could also use a good cop. If that sounds like lighthearted, slightly silly fun, it is. Each "episode" of the serial is noticeably picaresque in style - lots of action sequences, horror visuals and witty banter, but not many moments of narrative pause or introspection. As a result the characters aren't especially complex or deeply rendered; it's an ensemble cast, though Sal remains the main character throughout. And the peril rarely feels genuinely perilous. This seems intentional, too, however - rather like watching a TV show with episodes that can be skipped or watched out of order, and characters who remain comfortably predictable throughout. Maybe this isn't the kind of show that's going to win a lot of Emmys; it's more the type that could win a devoted audience and keep going for season after season. Probably ideal for commuters looking for pleasant popcorn reading to start or end the day. N. K. JEMISIN won a 2016 Hugo Award for her novel "The Fifth Season." Her latest book is its sequel, "The Obelisk Gate."


School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-A searing, painful, but necessary graphic novel adaptation of Butler's classic sci-fi work. It begins with a short glimpse at African American protagonist Dana's beaten physical state in the late 1970s and jumps briefly backward in time as she unpacks in her new home with her white husband Kevin. She is abruptly ripped from her present day to a plantation in antebellum Maryland, called there by the pained cries of her white ancestor Rufus. While Dana is in the past, time passes quickly, and she has to learn how to survive in horrendous conditions in order to protect her own future existence. She inexplicably returns to the present, where only a short time has passed, and eventually transports her husband to the past, where the white and black characters can't understand their interracial marriage. The couple continues to be torn apart by the sporadic time travel, and each time Dana hopes to reform Rufus as he grows older, but to no avail. The graphic scenes of violence, including intimations of rape, might shock readers, but they also serve to put history in stark and realistic light. Jennings's muted palette for the scenes in the 1970s and more vibrant hues in the mid-1800s serve as visual reminders of setting. The variation of the panels will catapult readers forward as the heroine slowly begins to understand how to manipulate the time travel. Inner monologues present Dana's own battles with complacency in a heartbreaking way. Strong language is appropriate for the horrific situations the characters find themselves in, and important themes of oppression, systemic racism and sexism, and survival are explored. VERDICT A compelling, masterly graphic novel for all libraries serving teens.-Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal Review

As adapted from Butler's iconic novel, Dana is unwillingly wrenched from 1976 back to 1815 and must blend into plantation life as the "slave" of her white husband, Kevin. Here, Dana meets the plantation owner's spoiled son, who rapes his slave-concubine Alice to produce Dana's own ancestors. Butler claimed that her novel sanitized life under slavery, but Dana witnesses and experiences miseries aplenty. Indeed, Dana and Kevin are both changed by the forced culture shock. The 1976 episodes appear in sedate two-toned images, the dystopian plantation society in jarring strong colors. (LJ 4/1/17) © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.