The Age of Miracles

  • by Karen Thompson Walker
  • Narrated by Emily Janice Card
  • 9 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Science Fiction, 2013
With a voice as distinctive and original as that of The Lovely Bones, and for the fans of the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world. "It still amazes me how little we really knew... Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much."
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life - the fissures in her parents marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

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What the Critics Say

Advance praise for The Age of Miracles
: "[A] gripping debut....Thompson's Julia is the perfect narrator...While the apocalypse looms large-has in fact already arrived-the narrative remains fiercely grounded in the surreal and horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we've been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end."(Publishers Weekly)
"In Walker's stunning debut, a young California girl coming of age in a dystopian near future confronts the inevitability of change on the most personal level as life on earth withers. She goes through the trials and joys of first love. She begins to see cracks in her parent's marriage and must navigate the currents of loyalty and moral uncertainty. She faces sickness and death of loved ones. ...Julia's life is shaped by what happens in the larger world, but it is the only life she knows, and Walker captures each moment, intimate and universal, with magical precision. Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving. (Kirkus Reviews)
"What a remarkable and beautifully wrought novel. In its depiction of a world at once utterly like and unlike our own, The Age of Miracles is so convincingly unsettling that it just might make you stockpile emergency supplies of batteries and bottled water. It also - thank goodness - provides great solace with its wisdom, its compassion, and the elegance of its storytelling." (Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dear Diary, Met a Boy & the World is Ending

Age of Miracles has been on every "best summer novel", for months now, appealing to fans of speculative fiction with its brief description about a dystopian world. What was not mentioned is the specific target audience for the book - and there was a reason. Originally the book was aimed at a YA audience, then found to be too slow and unexciting enough for that particular market--(saturated as it is with fantastical supernatural creatures and amped up romance) Age of Miracles was actively re-marketed as an adult speculative fiction; suddenly gaining rave reviews from publishers and critics everywhere. Unfortunate for the YA market, and an unexpectedly sweet addition for adult readers. NOW I know that, but it took Walker's beautiful and smooth style, and the pure authentic voice of Julia to lure me in and thoroughloy convince me this was a book for adults. I relate this for a reason...

YA books are not my preferred genre. At the onset, I was disappopinted, thinking I had somehow been duped into purchasing a YA novel, and thus was expected to relate to the everyday events of a 12 yr. old girl. As the book progressed, I still wasn't loving this. I felt like I was being read a 7th grader's Dear Diary, listening as she wrote about training bras, boys, and snooty cliques - all more important than the sudden mysterious global changes. But, what author Karen Walker does so effortlessly and well is keep true and authentic to young Julia's view and voice; and I found myself getting to know this girl, and becoming engrossed in her sincere story. And suddenly the book worked for me.

Parents sometimes joke that egocentric teenagers see themselves as the center of everything, and the events of the world as a backdrop; but it is that concept that makes this story so appealing, and prevents the "spin" or scientific accounting of events from turning this story into just another end of the world read (which is actually all somewhat irrelevant here). Julia is more self aware and observant than this stereotype teen, but still has a bright innocence and naivete that endears her to the listener (reminiscent of the narrator in The Lovely Bones) and makes this story all the more wistful and bittersweet. We care more about this tender, observant young girl than the chaos going on around her. Emily Card does a remarkable, and very convincing job, reading and conveying the emotions of Julia.

It isn't a big speculative fiction blockbuster; there are no dynamic moments or peaks and valleys, rather, it is a consistent flow from the heart as Julia observes her self, her family, and her world, and the world (planet) on their propspective paths of change. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this book, and the emotion it brings to the surface, and think it works equally well for adults and YA.
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- Mel

Childlike Innocence Tinged With Adult Regret

There's been buzz about this book for quite a while now, and I have anxiously awaited it's arrival. While other books in similar situations recently have been a disappointment, this book deserves the recognition it's quickly garnered.

Our story is told by Julia, an 11 year old only child of a doctor and part-time teacher. She is enjoying a happy, typical childhood in Southern California, until the fateful Saturday that the news goes public; the rotation of the earth is slowing.

As both days and nights continue to grow in length over time, and the 24 hour clock looses all meaning in relation to the days and nights, the entire landscape of Julia's childhood and anticipated future begin to change. Some of these changes are easily anticipated, while others come as more of a surprise.

The book is told in past tense; allowing you to wonder as you progress through her story where Julia is now, and who we, her anticipated audience, are to be. The other benefit of the past tense is that while the story is being framed from the point of view of an 11 year old child, there is a subtle undercurrent of adult regret in the telling, as the older Julia tells us of that terrible first year of "the slowing". There is also something adult in Julia's growing discomfort of clocks; ticking away time she fears they no longer have, propelling them into a future she doesn't think she wants. The narration, performed by Emily Janice Card (yes, Orson Scott Card's daughter) also added greatly to the tone of the book, mixing child-like storytelling with tones of quiet nostalgia adults will recognize and respond to.

The author was very true to her point of view; at one point I found myself frustrated that we still hadn't really heard much about the economic fallout of the situation, until I realized; through the lens of an 11 year old girl, the focus will fall onto other matters. Once embraced, that fact seems to give the story it's authenticity.

At 9 hours in length, this book is not long; but as 11 year old Julia acknowledges, "Sometimes the saddest stories take the fewest words."

A well written, well read, sad and touching story.
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- Amanda "I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio