Francine's Reviews > The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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Jul 04, 12

bookshelves: modern-lit, bildungsroman, dystopian-world, speculative, young-adult, kindle
Read from June 30 to July 04, 2012 — I own a copy

The Age of Miracles was both beautiful and extremely frustrating. Beautiful because the writing was exquisite; Karen Thompson Walker writes simply but succinctly. She's very expressive and knows her way around the written word. While I don't think it was as beautifully written as The Art of Fielding, her writing was sophisticated, evocative and nuanced; without trying too hard, her words successfully evoked the images and emotions needed to further her narrative, something which many other writers try and fail to do. It almost reminded me of the beauty behind Colson Whitehead's Zone One, another book that I thought was both beautifully written but extremely frustrating.

So here are my reasons for loving this book:
- this was a true coming-of-age novel
- Thompson Walker did not shy away from themes of loneliness and ostracization that oftentimes comes with growing up
- the death of the human race mimicked the death of the earth, which was also an analogy for that tumultuous period between the end of childhood and the start of adulthood


It was a good story...if it had focused on the coming-of-age portion of the story, it probably would've been more successful. However, when taken in with the sci-fi aspects of the story (the earth's rotation is slowing down, causing longer days and longer nights, which leads to the eventual dying of the earth), it fails miserably.

The science is weak. I had to stop nearly a dozen times in disbelief. While Thompson Walker does not go into details, specifically so that she wouldn't have to deal with the science, what did end up in the book irked me to the point of distraction. I finally had to tell myself to really suspend disbelief...to the point where I found myself glossing over some of the "earth dying" parts.

It's a good thing -- a really good thing -- that I enjoyed Julia's story. The heartbreaking end of her friendship with Hanna evoked painful memories of lost friendships in grade school; similarly, her growing friendship and initial romance with Seth reminded me of early crushes and never quite knowing how to behave around boys. Her reaction to the decline of her parents' relationship was real, as were her feelings of not belonging anywhere or to anyone (I, too, remember lunchtimes in the library, in grade school!).

I think this book is worth reading, but I must warn other science geeks out there: don't concentrate on the science! Don't try to think too much or too deeply. Just enjoy the story for what it is: a story of a young girl getting ready to leave her childhood behind.
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Reading Progress

06/30/2012 page 16
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Comments (showing 1-19)




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Jason How is it?


Francine Jason wrote: "How is it?"

It's very beautifully written - the prose is excellent. However, it's very slow going. And the science (since it is partly sci-fi) isn't very strong unfortunately.

Is this one on your radar?


Jason love love, always love your reviews. clearly written, to the point, and captivating. have you read the watch or into the darkest corner?


Jason Francine wrote: "Jason wrote: "How is it?"

It's very beautifully written - the prose is excellent. However, it's very slow going. And the science (since it is partly sci-fi) isn't very strong unfortunately.

Is ..."


yes.. it is.. it was in a long list of NPR summer book reviews, among, the watch,gone girl and into the darkest corner. I am thumbing slowly through heartbreaking work of staggering genius. I have I am no one you know, and the wind-up bird chronicles left to read (bday gifts)... but im one of those readers who is always, unfortunately while reading another book, anxious for the next great read.


Francine Jason wrote: "love love, always love your reviews. clearly written, to the point, and captivating. have you read the watch or into the darkest corner?"

Thanks, Jason! :-) Actually, I haven't read The Watch, but one of my friends is reading it (or maybe will be reading it?) and so I am waiting for the verdict. I am not familiar with Into the Darkest Corner - will have to look it up.

I do have Staggering Genius on my to-read list but I've heard mixed reviews on it. It seems like either people really love it or just don't get it. Let me know what you think of it when you are finally done.

I'm with you - I always keep one eye open towards the next book...keeps it exciting and gives me something to look forward to. :-)


message 14: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara I have to thank you for the tip on glossing over the science aspect of the story. That is exactly the sort of thing that can rip me right out of a novel, so knowing not to perseverate (sp?) on it was extremely helpful to me as a reader :)


Francine Lara wrote: "I have to thank you for the tip on glossing over the science aspect of the story. That is exactly the sort of thing that can rip me right out of a novel, so knowing not to perseverate (sp?) on it was extremely helpful to me as a reader :) "

Glad to help out! It frustrated me when I was reading it...


message 12: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara Me too. It's a great premise that isn't fleshed out very well, which is too bad.


Jason Question, do you think the lack of science it misunderstanding of science related to the narrators age?


message 10: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara Jason, did you read the book? (I have a question that might spoil it if you didn't)


Jason Ugh sorry, it was suppose to be or. Auto correct failure. Haven't read it.


Lara Then I'll keep mum for now :)

But the lack/misunderstanding of science as a function of the narrator's age never occurred to me, and it's a great insight. It certainly could explain why it's so ...clunky. To me, it felt like the author had some ideas but didn't know quite how to flesh them out.


Jason Yah im reading shine shine shine and its the same thing..... Just Novice authors needing to refine their skill.... Still this one looks really good


Lara That was really my only complaint, and it's really a quibble, ya know? The book really was worthwhile.


Jason Im going to pick it up for my next read. Thanks


Natalie I just read this and I agree, for the most part, with your review. The thing for me about the science part that really worked is that the narrator is 11. So, I just decided to look at huge science concepts through those eyes. That helped me suspend belief and avoid frustration!


Jason natalie... The narrator is 11, but isnt it told after her childhood? or did i COMPLETELY miss the mark on this one; entirely possible.


Natalie It is, you're right. But it kind of waffles between an actual 11 yr old perspective and her 23 yr old self. I remembered after I posted that yes, indeed, she's older and looking back. I also kind of think about how, as average citizens that depend on regular media, we don't always know what's going on either. So, I kind of took it in that vein as well.


Jason absolutely. and it was well written. my only problem was its over focus in some areas. it seems to over analyze certain portions or events too much.


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