Emily May's Reviews > The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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Jan 04, 14

bookshelves: young-adult, dystopia-utopia, 2012, boring, coverly-love
Read from August 04 to 08, 2012

This is yet another rating I really struggled with because, though I can't say I really enjoyed it, the novel is beautifully written in a very evocative way that makes you want to write down a quote every few pages. But it comes back to that whole writing vs story matter that has stopped me from giving many prettily-worded books a high rating.

The dystopian aspect of The Age of Miracles creeps in slowly and in a mostly subtle and non-threatening manner. Basically, the normal 24 hour day begins to slowly lengthen, first by minutes, then later by hours. Scientists from around the world appear on TV discussing this strange occurrence - how could this have happened? Why did no one see it coming? Eventually, more subtle and weird changes begin to happen to do with the Earth's gravity: birds dropping to the ground, unable to fly; cars colliding in accidents that would have easily been avoided before.

This is one of those slow-moving stories, the major plot line is that these changes take place but the subplots that should be what happens when it does, how this affects people's lives... they are small and seem rather undramatic, particularly for this genre that needs a little oppression, some serious danger, a very real threat. I read this novel feeling like no one was in any real peril and that the most tragic event was that Julia - the eleven year old narrator - grew apart from her best friend.

I guess that the intention of the author was to show the subtle effects to lives when people experience fear and uncertainty. Walker wanted to show how relationships break down and people change, and she did do that. But there's no real sense of catastrophe here, no panic, the fear they feel is more a touch of nerves over what might happen than it is a spine-chilling terror. It's too gentle, too subdued, too focused on what I didn't care about.

The description would have you think that this is a science fiction kind of tale where the Earth's rotation starts going crazy... hardly, it's the day-to-day problems of a suburban Californian family and how badly they deal with their routine being disturbed. Also, the ending is highly unsatisfying and read like the bullshitting of someone who doesn't have the answers to the questions they've opened up. Unless your idea of a good reading experience depends totally on the language/writing, I recommend giving this one a miss and maybe just reading the pretty quotes on the book page.
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by Maya (new) - added it

Maya mmh, yea, I also prefer a good story over "beautiful" writing. Nice review :)

Emily May Thanks Maya :)

Rachel I feel like you perfectly captured how I felt after finishing it. Such a cool premise, but kind of went nowhere.

Kimba yep.. this is a great wrap up of this book. I just finished it today..

message 5: by Staci (new)

Staci Hart exactly. EXACTLY!!!!

message 6: by Jo (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jo you've written the review I came here to write - I've read a lot of coming of age apocalyptic book & this has to be one of the most unsatisfying ever. Just did not capture me at all.

Emily May Thanks Jo :)

Christie That's funny, because I liked it so much specifically because it isn't all the edge of your seat, post-apocalyptic action. The world ending with a whimper instead of a bang.

Emily May Christie wrote: "That's funny, because I liked it so much specifically because it isn't all the edge of your seat, post-apocalyptic action. The world ending with a whimper instead of a bang."

Oh yes, Christie, I'm sure this works very well for fans of subtle, subdued stories but I prefer my dystopian/science fiction a bit faster-paced and nastier. In the end, it's just different tastes, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

message 10: by K8 (new) - rated it 1 star

K8 "It's too gentle, too subdued, too focused on what I didn't care about. "

Caryn YES!!!

message 12: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess Broom I agree! It didn't grip me the way I like my books to. I did love the way she evoked memories of childhood, and her language use.

Becky totally agree!

Stacey This was exactly how I felt about reading the book. Thank you for the stellar review.

Emily May Thanks, Stacey :)

Jessica A friend liked your review and I loved this book, so I thought I'd read what you had to say, as it looked like a very thought-out review.

It's really interesting, I think. I feel like people approach this book in two ways: as dystopian, and sometimes as YA dystopian, and as literary with this really weird inexplicably sci-fi/dystopian premise. When I handsell this (which I do a lot), I handsell it to the people who come in and buy slow literary novels and specifically point out to people who read sci-fi that this isn't really sci-fi in any real sense.

As a lover of indulging in a well-written, slow book, I absolutely adored this book and count it as my best 2012 read. But I think you (and others) are spot on in pointing out that it's almost nothing like you'd expect going on the premise alone.

Great review.

Emily May Thanks Jessica! I can definitely see how the right reader would absolutely love this book, the writing is beautiful. But I think I've been realising over the last couple of years how much plot/story plays a big part in my enjoyment of a book. I appreciate good writing too but I always feel unsatisfied when the plot is small-scale and subtle. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I'm glad to hear this book is finding the right kind of readers through you.

message 18: by SamB (new) - rated it 3 stars

SamB I agree with a lot of what you say, though I did enjoy the novel a bit more than you did. I think a lot of my issue is summed up in the summary on the goodreads page - the idea of whether 'everything that happened to my family' was caused by the slowing. The problem is that actually very little does happen to her and her family.

I understand the comments that the book is meant to be focusing on the routine matters of family life, and not on the overarching issues, and I did appreciate that about the book. I just found it all a little easy and simplistic. As much as anything, I didn't come in expecting it to be quite so YA. Something a little more hard hitting would have been an improvement.

GirlPiper™ Stephanie Irwin I plowed through this book. It was intriguing, well written and I enjoyed reading it, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing.

message 20: by Kellangrey (new)

Kellangrey wow you are every where!!! lol

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