Octavian grows up in a house of colonial scholars in the years before the American Revolutionary War. His mother is a princess from a foreign land, flirted with and adored by the bookish men who toil at their mysterious experiments all day, while Octavian is petted and coddled by the kindly old professors who teach him science, Latin, and how to play the violin. Then one day he discovers a room within the house of books that reveals a startling truth so contrary to what he understands about his existence that Octavian must re-learn who and what he is from the ground up, basically from nothing. Who is Octavian Nothing? Patriot? Traitor? Property? Or Freeman? M.T. Anderson’s compelling book is at once incredibly complex in its construct, told in a myriad of forms and voices, while being breathtakingly simple in its theme of freedom and individual choice. This book isn’t an easy read, or a light one. It will take some awhile to get into and finish. But finish it you must to learn the secret—and the surprising fate—of the Astonishing Octavian Nothing.