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

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.
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- Karen

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

Book Details

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