Lisa Vegan's Reviews > Among Others

Among Others by Jo Walton
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May 25, 11

bookshelves: fiction, novel, speculative-fiction, books-about-books, groups-buddies, school-story, orphaned-and-quasi-orphaned-kids, historical-fiction, reviewed, favorites, gr-a
Recommended to Lisa by: Nikki
Recommended for: survivors & thrivers; bookworms, especially those who appreciate speculative fiction
Read from May 21 to 24, 2011

This is one of those books that so impressed me I’m struggling to write about it in a coherent manner.

Right away: wonderful WONDERFUL!!! from the author’s note about writing what she/authors know, or not, before the start of the book, to the very engaging narrator. Oh, if I’d had this book to read when I was 12 or 13, it would have been one of those lifesaving books, true even when I was a decade older perhaps.

In my opinion, it’s stunningly marvelous. I appreciated how a lot is left open to interpretation, including even the book’s genre.

It’s about survival and living and death and grief and books (especially books!) and connection and so much more, what the dead are and aren’t to the living, about doing right and being oneself, and growing up and growing strong, and it’s about coping. And. And. And.

I love having a narrator who’s smart, thoughtful, and a superb writer. In this case the entire story is told via Mori’s diary entries. She’s such a good writer and knows so much about speculative fiction literature, I had to look up a few words, and I enjoyed learning what I learned.

I enjoyed it when I recognized my read books that were mentioned and I regretted not having read all the books, wondering what in the conversation I was missing.

This is an almost perfect book for me. As I read, and I thought about writing a review for this book, I kept planning to say this is an almost perfect book until/through, expecting my feelings would change, but they did not.

I am confused about one or two things and so I’m glad I read it for a Goodreads’ online book club. It’s a June selection, and I can’t wait to chat about it. If only we had a real world book club that could meet in a library such as the book club featured in this story.
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Quotes Lisa Liked

Jo Walton
“It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.”
Jo Walton, Among Others


Reading Progress

05/21/2011 page 7
2.0% "I'm starting this today because I'm longing to read some fiction along with my current non-fiction book. I'll read them concurrently."
05/21/2011 page 94
31.0% "Stunningly marvelous! Loving it so far. This would have been one of those books lifesaving for me had I first read it at ages 12 or 13."
05/22/2011 page 181
60.0% "This is a book I'm absolutely loving!"
05/23/2011 page 234
77.0% "So far anyway, an almost perfect book. Loving it."

Comments (showing 1-26 of 26) (26 new)

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Lisa Vegan NOTE TO SELF: I did forget to mention I could have done without the seemingly obligatory dating relationship. Does every teenager always have to end up dating someone in every ya book?!? But, still a nearly perfect book for me.


Jackie "the Librarian" Lisa, are you going to seek out the books mentioned in the story that you hadn't already read?


Lisa Vegan Jackie "the Librarian" wrote: "Lisa, are you going to seek out the books mentioned in the story that you hadn't already read?"

Jackie, I do have a print out of all the books mentioned in the book. I am interested in some, and some I'd be content to simply read more about them. My to-read shelf is so out of control and my current pile of books at home is so overwhelming, I'll have to see.


Jackie "the Librarian" I know what you mean, Lisa. I have stacks and shelves of books I'm planning to get to, eventually. After I read this one here... :)


Lisa Vegan Jackie "the Librarian" wrote: "I know what you mean, Lisa. I have stacks and shelves of books I'm planning to get to, eventually. After I read this one here... :)"

Exactly. I am reading both a novel and non-fiction book now and eyeing too many books to count.


Emily Reading this book, I felt very much that Mori was a very active goodreads friend and I was seeing all her updates...


Lisa Vegan Emily wrote: "Reading this book, I felt very much that Mori was a very active goodreads friend and I was seeing all her updates..."

I know exactly what you mean, for in the entries when she's talking about books. When she's talking about her teenage stuff, well, then as a friend when I was a kid.


Lori (Hellian) Emily wrote: "Reading this book, I felt very much that Mori was a very active goodreads friend and I was seeing all her updates..."

That's perfect.
I too wish I had the time to read whatever I hadn't that was mentioned in the book. But I was also thrilled to understand the references that I knew. Especially the last sentence which is from The AMber Chronicles. Which I love.


Lisa Vegan I haven't gotten yet to Roger Zelazny's Amber books.


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Thanks, Abigail. Are you planning to read this one?


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Oh, completely understand. I haven't even read Dreamhunter; I'm missing many group books. For many reasons.


message 12: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Could reading this book open up the science fiction genre to me? I have read Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Le Guin, but ages ago. I am thinking that the protagonist's love of the genre will be made clear to me so maybe I could love it too. Should I try this?


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I'm not sure about the first part of your question, Chrissie. Maybe??? As far as whether you should try it, if I'm remembering it correctly, maybe. Sorry I can't be more definitive. If you had access to a library, i'd say sure, definitely. I adored it. It takes a little patience for a while, though I loved most of it from the start, and it pays off beautifully. There are lists posted on the internet/Goodreads that list all the books mentioned in the book. Great fun!

Here's a Goodreads Listopia list:

http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/12...

Here's a list mentioned in the comments:

http://papersky.livejournal.com/50927...

I had a lot of loss as a kid and books (and friends) were a solace, so I really identified (in some ways) with Mori in this story.


message 14: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 07, 2012 01:29AM) (new) - added it

Chrissie Lisa, I have noted the lists. Gosh, so hard to decide.

I keep trying to branch out, and yet I find that I always react in the same way. Reading now the Victorian novel, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Although Eliot's writing has its charms, I still get all itchy and irritated with the Victorian attitudes and mannerisms. The prose is wordy and standoffish and so very correct and proper. The veneer is only skin deep - as it should be for those hypocritical times. I am ashamed to say that I get very irritated.


message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, Yes, I don't think of you as reading all that many classics.

I don't know what to say. I loved this book, but I can't be sure what you'd think. It is unusual so it's hard to know who will love it (many) and who won't (I'm sure many others). Have you looked at variously starred reviews?


message 16: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I have asked Gaeta also, and she does not think I will like it. She thinks I might feel lost since I have not that much experience with science fiction writing. But then another person said it was NOT necessary to be an expert. You can always find opposing opinions of GR. That is good, but it is also so hard when you do not know what to do. I think Gaeta, who knows me well, is probably correct. It is just that I NEVER find new stuff.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I'm not sure you'll like it but it's not because of the books mentioned in it. There were many I did not know and I loved it. I just don't know, Chrissie. I'm continually upset that you can't borrow books because if you could I would definitely tell you to try it.


message 18: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Yeah. Our living in Belgium has both good and bad things about it.


message 20: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 10, 2012 12:49AM) (new) - added it

Chrissie Oh my, she really had me laughing, the author! She is quite special. I liked her replies to the interviewer. I just may give the book a try anyway. I like how it is an intellectual coming of age for a girl. I like how history is interwoven. On the side, she also had me laughing about Trollope and dragons. Thank you, Lisa.

Oh yes, and I liked her comment about YA books being readable for all since we have all been fifteen.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Oh good, Chrissie. I hope you love it as much as I did. Mori is a wonderful character. I'll eagerly await your review.


message 22: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I am trying to expand, but I still have to have time to read all the new things I plan on reading, so do not hold your breath. Thank you for your help.


message 23: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "I am trying to expand, but I still have to have time to read all the new things I plan on reading, so do not hold your breath. Thank you for your help."

Oh, I understand that. And, as far as this book goes, I read it differently than many. I didn't see it as speculative fiction but as a straight growing up tale. Loved it. Hope you get to it down the road eventually.


message 24: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I saw that you really loved it and that spurred me o. Thank you for taking the time to really explain why you liked it.


message 25: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Chrissie wrote: "I saw that you really loved it and that spurred me o. Thank you for taking the time to really explain why you liked it."

Chrissie, I also loved this book and I love Lisa's review. But I have to say that I don't think you would like it much at all. I suspect that you would probably be annoyed by all of the references to the science fiction and fantasy books which the narrator reads, even though it's not necessary to have read them to follow the plot. Also, the narrative has fantasy elements - which may be part of the narrator's imagination, but which may also be "real". Given your preference for realism, I'm not sure you'd like a narrator who performs magic and whose mother is a witch, even if that's only what she believes rather than what is so.


message 26: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Kim, thanks for your perceptive thoughts!


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