Don's Reviews > Among Others

Among Others by Jo Walton
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it was amazing

Among Others is the first contender I've read for the upcoming 2012 Hugo Awards. And I'll be very surprised if it doesn't end up getting my top vote.

The main character, Morwenna, is a Welsh girl growing up in the year of 1979-1980, and has been sent away to boarding school in England. She's exceptionally bright for her age, consumes a diet of sci-fi and fantasy novels on a near-daily basis, and doesn't make friends easily. She was in an accident the previous year, often requiring a cane to walk, and has little patience for the immature antics and social maneuverings of her classmates and peers.

Also, she can perform magic and talks to the fairies.

There is so much that I loved about this novel. The diary-entry form gives us a great glimpse into Mor's head, and the fact that she eschews most social activities really makes believable the idea that she could be writing so much (ie, the general credence-breaking conceit in most epistolary novels). And amongst the boarding school life, and the larger plot - regarding the fairies, her dead twin sister, and her literal witch of a mother - we find Mor write about the novels she's reading. A LOT. Of course, since these are the novels that the majority of this book's readership will have had at least some familiarity with, this is actually a canny move on the part of the author to get us to bond with the character pretty darn quick. Don't be surprised if you finish this novel with a humongous list of classic sci-fi that you yourself want to go and seek out!

What makes this novel even more satisfying, though, is the fact that its form casts Mor herself as something of a potentially unreliable narrator. During the bulk of the story I found myself wondering: Do I take this at face value? Or is all this talk about magic and fairies a signifier that the girl is just plain bonkers? Will this big bad evil witch mother even show up, or just remain in the distance as a haunted, hated trauma?

By the very nature of the story itself - boarding school life - it's not a very plot-heavy novel. But plot isn't at all absent, and it's very very character-driven, and never for a single minute was I bored by the story. In fact, I pretty much loved the novel, and the character, from beginning to end.

Among Others has already won the Nebula Award. It deserves the Hugo as well.
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Reading Progress

June 3, 2012 – Started Reading
June 3, 2012 – Shelved
June 17, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I remember when you recommended this one. Having read this review, again, I'm adding it to my to-read list.

message 2: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don SO GOOD. :)

message 3: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don And it did in fact win both the Nebula AND Hugo that year. So, y'know.

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