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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.
: "[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)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Karen on 07-07-12
Not sure I can measure up...
...to the excellent quality of the reviews that have already been written here about Age Of Miracles. Like others have commented, YA is not my usual genre, and if this book had not been marketed as speculative fiction, I would surely have missed it.
I'm very glad that I did not. Seeing the changing world through young Julia's eyes is quite remarkable, and the author maintains a rhythm and a style (throughout nearly all of the book) that is both consistent and powerful. "Of course," I eventually thought, "this is exactly the way it would happen. People would continue to live their lives, fall in love, argue with family members, interact with their pets, make plans, have dreams of the future." This simple and pure quality is what distinguishes The Age of Miracles from other dystopian fiction I have read, and it takes the voice of a child on the brink of adulthood to convey it.
I also agree, however, that the ending is abrupt, and damages the otherwise smooth flow of the novel. I'm not sure what else there was to say, but the transition of years could have been more artful, and I am surprised that her editors did not insist on it.
While this is not always the case, I am quite certain that I would not have enjoyed this book as much in print. Emily Janice Card takes on a challenging task and does it flawlessly. She is apparently in synch with the author's intentions and does not distort the characters with her own interpretations. I sometimes think that the worst readers sit down with a book, completely unfamiliar with it and its intentions, signal for the mike to go live, and start to read. Clearly, Ms. Card understood this book before she began, and it is a masterful performance.
To those of you who are undecided about spending a credit for this book, I urge you to do so. I seldom just sit and listen to a book, preferring to let the book accompany me as I do dishes, clean house, or paint. I sat and listened to this book until it was finished. I will not forget it soon.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
By Mel on 06-29-12
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.
33 of 36 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Spyri Dela on 11-17-17
Very interesting book, very sad though
I really enjoyed listening to this book. It's a sad story but easy to go through. Kinda leaves you with bittersweet flavour in the end. I was left with sort of a big Why?! but overall i enjoyed it and the narrator is really good!