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Jerry GriswoldSummarizing such a sweeping and epic novel is a bit like saying Moby-Dick is about a fishing trip. Much of the grandeur is left out. Anderson's stylistic accomplishments should be acknowledged, particularly the way he sustains an almost Homeric voice…Then there is Anderson's suppleness of tone, as he slides from the comic in the opening pages…to the tragic in the conclusion…Here, too, you will be amazed by how much Anderson seems to know—for example, about Africa, from the warrior-women of Dahomey to uses of the kola nut. And all this virtuosity—in Octavian's voice, remember—is not showing off but serving the novel's purposes…It may be hard to conceive of making the claim about a young adult book, but I believe Octavian Nothing will someday be recognized as a novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called "encyclopedic" in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensive and deeply textured pattern.
—The New York Times