I have just finished reading Octavia Butler's "Kindred," and I find that I'm not sure if I liked it or not, most likely because I have many questions not only about the story, but also about how Butler wrote it. I would like to discuss some of my issues with others who have read the book.
I'll just start off with one issue - Butler's use of time travel. It felt to me that this was nothing more than a plot device to get Dana to the past, but that doesn't seem to jibe with Butler's other works, where she crafts her stories so well and where nothing is there without a reason. Was there something more to this that I just missed, or was it really just a means to an end?
I guess I see where you're coming from. It's important to understand that this was Butler's first novel. I don't think the mechanism of the time travel matters that much, and leaving it unexplained actually adds dramatic tension to the story. The most important thing was the unpredictability of the phenomenon, in my opinion. I suppose that the device was technically "a means to an end," but since it was pretty much the entire point of the story, that doesn't bother me so much.
I find that, over a year later, I still can't let go of this. Since almost everyone else I've talked with doesn't seem to have a problem, I can only conclude that this is a personal issue I have with the book and Butler's writing, which I otherwise love. So be it.