The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

August 18, 2017 Whitney Review 4 Comments

The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadThe Underground Railroad
Author Colson Whitehead
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Publisher Random House Audio
Publication Date September 13th 2016
Goodreads

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven—but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead held great promise. The novel had an interesting idea of the Underground Railroad being an actual railroad, unfortunately, that is where it ends. The Underground Railroad was an undeveloped idea that never turns from a cocoon into a butterfly.

The characters were rather dull and, despite all they had been through I really didn’t care what happened to them.

As for the narration, if it had been any other book I probably would have enjoyed Bahni Turpin as a reader. However, He did nothing to stop my eyes from glazing over and was rather disappointing.

I feel this is a prime example of how disappointing Oprah Book Club Books can be. A book that is chosen due to the subject matter and merely comes off as pretentious.

Sadly, another book I’d been looking forward to reading has bit me in the butt and has closed on the door on Oprah’s seal of approval.

Plot - /5
Main Characters - /5
Secondary Characters - /5
Pacing - /5
Writing - /5


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