Nancy's Reviews > Among Others

Among Others by Jo Walton
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: magic-realism
Read in February, 2012

I really enjoyed the voice in this book, and the matter-of-fact way magic realism was handled, and the way certain things were hinted at without ever being entirely spelled out. I suspect it will stay with me for a long time as well and may grow on me more over time. There are some truly unforgettable lines in here ("If you love books enough, books will love you back") and I enjoyed the ruminations on the ethics of magic.

What I didn't like was the anti-climactic climax-- what happened to Liz? why did Wim, Daniel and Sam all show up, which was a really BFD under the circumstances, for what seemed like a small event physically? (If it wasn't, the author didn't make that clear.)

I also didn't like major plot points being left unresolved, IMO. (I actually think the tension between whether the magic is real or not was nicely handled and didn't mind that at all.)

1. Why did Morwenna (if she was Morwenna-- one line late in the book cast doubt on that)'s extended family leave the twins with Liz? They seemed otherwise loving and caring, and not stupid. Whether or not she was really an evil queen, she was clearly abusive. Perhaps Liz had them under a spell (that seems to also be indicated in one line late in the book where Mor tells Wim Liz caused Grampar's stroke), but that needed to be spelled out. Perhaps it was merely having their heads in the sand, but after an incident in which one twin ended up dead, one would think they would intervene at that point.

2. I really, really, really disliked the seemingly throwaway scene in which Daniel climbed into Morwenna's bed drunk when they shared a hotel room and attempted to kiss her. If it were an "out of the frying pan into the fire" kind of thing, that would have been cliched but understandable. But I really disliked it because later in the book Mor develops a tentative positive relationship with Daniel.

It's superficial, yes, based on books, and it's clear that Daniel is an overgrown adolescent controlled by his sisters, but a touching slow burgeoning of parental feeling appears. Without the attempted molestation scene, Daniel would have been one of my favorite characters and I get the feeling that eventually they would have a real bond, so the fact that it's never addressed again implies to me the author is saying, "That's okay, sometimes even decent fathers get drunk and do things like that." No, it's not okay, and no, decent fathers don't do things like that, even when plastered.

I loved Sam as a character (though I disagreed with the idea that he wasn't magic-- he seemed to have a solid, safe magic of his own), and I'd really love to read the back story of all of this some day-- not the battle between Liz and Mor and Mori, but how Liz and Daniel got together and why he left and why the sisters keep him prisoner now.

Lots more to say but I don't know anyone else yet that has read this book. :)
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