Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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Mar 09, 2012

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bookshelves: all-fiction, america, young-adult-books
Read in March, 2012

When John Donne wrote "Busy old fool, unruly sun, Why dost thou thus?" he wasn't thinking of the end of the world. But what if the earth began misbehaving so badly that it made the sun appear unruly indeed? What if the end of life as we know it came not with the Biblical Apocalypse or Armageddon, but instead with a slow unraveling of the diurnal cycle? And what if this happened when you were eleven-going-on-twelve, and just trying to navigate the 6th grade social scene?

Answer these questions and you have the story of Julia, a Southern California girl of the not-too-distant future. Julia narrates the story as an adult, looking back on that first year of "the slowing." It's a foregone conclusion that the world didn't end, because she's still alive many years later to tell the story. I was still curious enough to keep reading, though. I wanted to see what sorts of climatological, physiological, and sociological changes might arise if the earth began to spin ever more slowly. Those changes I will not reveal, because they comprise the most compelling aspects of the novel.

Karen Thompson Walker is a fine representational writer. There are no heart-stopping passages, but neither are there any boring or poorly-written ones. The narrowness of the focus robs the story of a certain measure of its potential. We often see very little of what's happening in the world outside Julia's girlish set of concerns. In that sense it feels more like a young adult novel, with plenty of cross-over potential into the adult market.

What Walker does well is show how various citizen groups and government agencies behave when we are faced with a crisis. The government will always tell us to just keep shopping and all will be well. Certain people will panic, hoard food, and otherwise behave erratically. Factions will form, speculation will abound. But most of us will just keep soldiering on, adapting to the changes as best we can and stifling our deepest fears. Like it or not, the earth is our only home, and we're stuck here until further notice.

3.4 stars
Review copy provided by the publisher.

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Comments (showing 1-8)

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Emily Crowe You and I have very similar views on this book, but you expressed yours so much more beautifully!

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Emily wrote: "You and I have very similar views on this book, but you expressed yours so much more beautifully!"
Thank you, Emily. I enjoyed your review as well. In fact, you made me want to read the book, even though you didn't rate it highly.

Scribble Orca Thanks, Jeanette. Jury is still out on this one. I've TBRed it, but not sure. I skimmed the Amazon excerpt but still wasn't hooked enough to cough up for the Kindle edition (I've given up buying hard copies of books, too much trouble carting around, much as I still love the format).

The only thing about which I'm curious is how the slower spinning translates into either an equilibrium or a reversal (or earth exodus?), as obviously the narrator survives till later years.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" G N, I wouldn't say this to everyone, but given what I recall of your reading tastes, you can safely skip this one. Not meaty enough for you, methinks.

Scribble Orca Taa, much appreciated :D. Another friend said the same thing, so your recall is great!

message 3: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline Dystopian novels are not usually my thing, but you have aroused my curiosity, and I think I will give it a whirl.... It also sounds quite gently dystopian, rather than majorly depressing and frightening. So, time for me to try a new genre :)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'll be interested to see if this is too tame for you, Caroline. It's getting big raves from a lot of readers, but I wanted a little more.

Camille You put in to words what I was struggling with. A general admiration for the writing and story but the feeling the was to much left to "if we had only known" or "we didn't know then..."

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