John's Reviews > Among Others

Among Others by Jo Walton
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's review
Aug 11, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, historical-fiction
Read in August, 2012

A Marvelous Affirmation of the Transformative Power of Literature

A marvelous affirmation of the transformative power of literature in the education of anyone, not merely the adolescent protagonist of this novel, “Among Others” is a beautifully rendered celebration of fantasy and science fiction as literature, worthy of recognition by a readership that should extend far beyond the typical audiences for fantasy and science fiction. If you love books, if you understand how they can inspire you and sustain you, then you have to read “Among Others”, since it is not merely a most affectionate love letter for those who admire greatly both fantasy and science fiction. Walton’s novel is also an enchanting coming-of-age story, demonstrating how her protagonist, Morwenna Phelps, finds refuge in the power of the written word and in an expanding social network of like-minded fans of fantasy and science fiction; a saga which should resonate strongly with anyone who began loving great literature in their youth. The more magical aspects of “Among Others” should not deter potential mainstream fiction readers, especially those familiar with the more fantastical elements of Jonathan Lethem’s “The Fortress of Solitude” or Pete Hamill’s “Snow in August”. While delving into the make-believe worlds conjured by the likes of Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Silverberg, and J. R. R. Tolkien, Morwenna also tempts fate by performing magic in her English boarding school, plunging unexpectedly towards an emotionally charged climax in which she must confront both her own destiny and her half-crazed magician mother’s. This beautifully written ode to fantasy and science fiction is destined to be remembered as a classic work of fantasy and realism, admired and cherished by readers for generations.
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