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Among Others
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2013 Reads > AO: And... done! How about the ending? (Possible spoilers ahead.)

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Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 827 comments I practically inhaled this book, got it as an audio book on Saturday and couldn't stop listening to it. (I'm not native speaker, so I can't really say anything about how well the narrator managed the Welsh accent, but it sounded strange enough to me.)

I'm not sure yet how I feel about the book. I loved the first half, but was expecting some kind of revelation to happen at some point, and that never came. It's not like nothing happened, but it the way the book was built up I expected some kind of twist or turn rather than what did happen.

Did anyone else have the same expectations and was kind of let down by the ending? Did I miss anything?

Strangely (or maybe not so strangely) the book reminded me a lot of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle which was also mentioned in the book. I loved that book and I adore Among Others, but while it was okay for me that nothing really happened in I Capture the Castle, I'm not sure if I can say the same for Among Others.

(I'm sorry if parts of this comment seem confused, but I guess it represents my feelings about Among Others, so there you go.)


message 2: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6666 comments Mod
I enjoyed the ending. Most of the book is about her struggling to fit in, and her struggles with her mother.

In the end she (view spoiler)


Greg | 83 comments I thoroughly enjoyed the book, for a while I figured that Walton was character building and we'd get more action at some point. Eventually I realized that wasn't going to happen but it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book. I think it's mainly because I loved the character and her connections to the book she was reading.


Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 827 comments Thinking about it I guess the problem is that the book is a bit ambivalent about what it is about. Throughout the whole book you never know whether the magic part is pure imagination or even insanity or whether it is true.

The way Jo Walton tells the story you are never sure what to believe and I think it is intended to be unclear. For me that also meant that up to the end I wasn't sure whether to look out for some clues that revealed some kind of truth or whether the story was indeed just the story of a girl struggling with a somewhat abusive mother and the death of her sister.

As I said I kind of expected a twist or revelation and it felt like the story pointed in such a direction, so not getting that felt like a disappointment somehow.

Reading it more like a coming-of-age story of a girl struggling makes the ending more fitting.

I'm not saying that I didn't like the ending, in fact, I even suspect that I will enjoy it a lot in retrospect, it just wasn't what I thought would happen. I also think that Jo Walton did it on purpose, i.e. she employed her protagonist as an obviously unreliable narrator to throw readers off track occasionally and make them question if Mori is telling the truth or not.


message 5: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 818 comments Note: This is not put here because I want to derail speculation, although I know it will; it's an unavoidable side effect. But I can't NOT post it for people who want to know the author's intent. I *always* want to know the author's intent.

In another thread, Louise posted a link to Jo Walton's FAQ in her LJ. The very first topic is the "Is it magic or isn't it?" question. The post is at http://papersky.livejournal.com/50411...

And her take on the magic question is: (view spoiler)


Julia (dazerla) | 216 comments Serendi wrote: "Note: This is not put here because I want to derail speculation, although I know it will; it's an unavoidable side effect. But I can't NOT post it for people who want to know the author's intent. I..."

Interesting interview I was wondering after I finished the book if those earrings the Aunts gave her were protective.

I was really surprised how much I loved this book, given the blurb I thought I was going to hate it. I think it was part wiring style and part how much I identified with the narrator.


Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments The style of this book reminded me a bit of the movie Pan's Labyrinth. Especially the part about the "is it or isn't it magic".

I felt the book was meant more for those who had a similar book club/library background as the author growing up. I hadn't read most of the books mentioned with the exception of a few of the more popular titles. The story it seemed to me was Jo Walton trying to convey a coming of age story for the book worm crowd. This works great if you had a similar experience growing up. Otherwise the book feels a bit flat. It is kind of like reading several book forum threads about books you haven't read. The story itself beyond the numerous book references is thinly described and paper thin which I feel was done on purpose since the book itself is an excuse to talk about other books.


Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 827 comments Nick, I totally agree. I loved the book exactly for the many book references and all the stuff that I can relate to so much, even the desire to believe in magic and so on, but I also wondered whether for someone who cannot relate it's just a very redundant story of a girl who goes to school and reads a lot of books.

(It's a bit like in The Magicians which lots of people didn't like, but those who did said they liked (or loved) it because they could relate to the main character so much.)


Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Mostly I saw the book as Mori's attempt to fit herself into the pattern of life (time, relationships with others, etc.) and magic was just the capstone of that.

At the beginning she was literally "among others", people that were "other" to her (these are not my people, the strangeness of school)

But that otherness was also created in part by Mori herself. She pushed away everything and everyone, sometimes in a kind of rejection of everyone around them ("I don't like them", the repeated use of moron to describe people [which I really hated], the cultivation of fear at school, her freak out with the Sisters), sometimes in self-pity (the reaction to a drunk Daniel coming back to the room, "I am so lonely", etc.)

Much of the book is how she slowly fits herself into or creates for herself a place in life. The acceptance of magic as something that has a pattern is the final piece in place for the story to end.


message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 83 comments Anne wrote: "but I also wondered whether for someone who cannot relate it's just a very redundant story of a girl who goes to school and reads a lot of books."

I think that's probably true but isn't that the case with most books? If you don't relate or aren't interested in the topic you aren't generally going to enjoy the book as much.


message 11: by Anne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anne Schüßler (anneschuessler) | 827 comments Greg wrote: "I think that's probably true but isn't that the case with most books? If you don't relate or aren't interested in the topic you aren't generally going to enjoy the book as much."

Well, there are books (or stories) that are more story driven. For example I couldn't really relate to the characters in last month's read "Wool", but the story kept me going. Same goes for the whole A Song of Ice and Fire saga. While there are characters that I really love, I cannot say that I relate to anyone particularly.

With Among Others there isn't that much of a story, so I would guess that you really need to have a connection to the character and what she cares about to enjoy it. But I'm just guessing.

It feels like this could be question to be discussed in a different thread though.


Casey (casey_lovescritters) | 20 comments Anne wrote: "Thinking about it I guess the problem is that the book is a bit ambivalent about what it is about. Throughout the whole book you never know whether the magic part is pure imagination or even insani..."

I felt the same way. I kept expecting the magic part to be expounded upon more, but it just kept floating in the background. The summary on the book cover makes it sound very elaborate when it's actually a more simpler story. I got the impression it couldn't decide what kind of story it wanted to be, and maybe that's why it irked me because it was very ambiguous.


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I had no idea what this book was about when I started, except that it had faeries. The journal idea was a bit of a letdown at first but it became less annoying after a while.

The story itself wasn't spectacular or anything but it was... Comfortable.

That ending though was meh. Spend the entire book saying magic is weird and can easily be denied only to end up with pages becoming deadly spears and then real trees seems a bit out of place to me.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Anne wrote: "Nick, I totally agree. I loved the book exactly for the many book references and all the stuff that I can relate to so much, even the desire to believe in magic and so on, but I also wondered wheth..."

I related to the love and devouring of books and to sometimes wishing to live in fictional worlds but the story aside from that did still feel flat and redundant and like it wasn't clear what the point was.

I can see Rob's point about what the point was (haha) but it was too subtle to be a good payoff after all the tension with fear of her mother and only getting vague hints about what her sister and her were stopping their mother from doing before the events of the book was obnoxious, I wanted more information about that.


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Andrew (ajw315) | 7 comments Disliked the book, it felt exactly like reading what it was-a 15 year old girl's diary.

Also it all just kind if ended.

The whole thing I found boring and believe the fairies/magic is all made up which makes the ending all made up as well, which I guess is better than an entry that says 'So today I saw my mom and FINALY told her to eff off'


message 16: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Wiswell | 86 comments The only part of the ending I want to weigh in on is the last paragraph, which made me laugh for a very long time.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments John wrote: "The only part of the ending I want to weigh in on is the last paragraph, which made me laugh for a very long time."

I definitely got a good chuckle out of the last line.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Andrew wrote: "Disliked the book, it felt exactly like reading what it was-a 15 year old girl's diary.

Also it all just kind if ended.

The whole thing I found boring and believe the fairies/magic is all made up..."


Having been a 15yo girl who kept a diary (yeah so maybe that was over a decade ago now) mine never sounded like this at all. :p
Also, I treated the magic as real and I believe the author states on her blog that it should be treated as real and that makes it a slightly better story, but I still didn't completely love it.


message 19: by Adelaide (last edited Jun 03, 2013 10:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adelaide Blair I started out not liking this at all, but then I found myself reading into the night - completely unwilling to put it down. While, I found the ending to be completely anticlimactic, I became so invested in her journey that I didn't care. I just fell into the world and didn't want to leave until it was over. More of a mood piece than a rousing story I guess.


Rodrigo (morcego) | 188 comments Anne wrote: "Did anyone else have the same expectations and was kind of let down by the ending?"

Somewhat. It really felt rushed to me. The book is slow paced, and software dance the author takes you through. However, the whole conclusion and ending of the book took what? 3 pages? E-book here, so I can't be sure, but it felt extremely rushed. It almost felt like the author got tired of telling the story and decided to just wrap it then and there.

The rest of the book (the first 99% of it), I loved it. It was extremely light reading, well paced and oh-my-f-lord did my "to read" list grew.

I mostly felt this book to be a love letter to F/SF, disguised as a fantasy story. For that, if nothing else, I will strongly recommend this book to pretty much everyone I know that loves reading. The story? For me, it was completely secondary.

Not a book for anyone starting on S/SF, tho. Beginners beware :)


message 21: by AndrewP (last edited Jun 04, 2013 10:54AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2431 comments Anne wrote: "(It's a bit like in The Magicians which lots of people didn't like, but those who did said they liked (or loved) it because they could relate to the main character so much.) "

That's exactly what I was thinking, although I am enjoying this a bit more than I did The Magicians. Probably because I spent some time in Wales in my youth. Not being an American I could not relate to the main character in the Magicians. To me he was just the stereotypical US college loser.


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Anthea Sharp | 11 comments Anne wrote: "I practically inhaled this book, got it as an audio book on Saturday and couldn't stop listening to it. (I'm not native speaker, so I can't really say anything about how well the narrator managed t..."

I agree, the ending felt... incomplete to me. I loved the book, and her writing, though. Maybe her aim was just to leave the reader unsettled, but I was hoping for more. I know, rather unliterary of me to want a resolution. ;)


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Andrew (ajw315) | 7 comments Katie wrote: "Andrew wrote: "Disliked the book, it felt exactly like reading what it was-a 15 year old girl's diary.

Also it all just kind if ended.

The whole thing I found boring and believe the fairies/magic..."


I read the author's FAQ after I wrote that comment ans have two problems with the magic being real.

1) I feel the author did a poor job getting that point across because 2) the whole story is several lies upon lies and is influenced by the Unrealiable Narrator. So its hard to believe the magic is real when many of the magic things are flat out stated as being lies.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Andrew wrote: "1) I feel the author did a poor job getting that point across because 2) the whole story is several lies upon lies and is influenced by the Unrealiable Narrator. So its hard to believe the magic is real when many of the magic things are flat out stated as being lies. "

I guess I'm not remembering...what magic things are stated as being lies? The only comment I'm recalling is the beginning when it says something about her having to try not to make it sound more non-magical, kind of truth is stranger than fiction and all that. I didn't take any of it as being lies, did I miss an indication I should have?


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1840 comments Serendi wrote: "Note: This is not put here because I want to derail speculation, although I know it will; it's an unavoidable side effect. But I can't NOT post it for people who want to know the author's intent. I *always* want to know the author's intent."

Oh dear, I worry that this might be a side effect of my 'contain yourself' thread and that you've now worried about posting this! A chain of worries perhaps? Thank you for being considerate in any case. :)

I quite like knowing what the author intended actually, and I don't think it halts speculation, since people can still choose whether they think the magic is real or not - the author cannot dictate that.

I believe it was real, and I utterly adored the book. I have only read a couple of the books Mor talks about, but I loved all the references, which were like tantalising little titbits that make me want to read all the books she read and then read this again with fuller understanding. I didn't really see the story beginning or ending (it's still running in my head) so the end didn't disappoint me - it's her life, so a perfect, neatly tied up end point would be hard to find, but she dealt with the grief she felt at losing her sister, and managed to free herself of her mother's control, so there was certainly some resolution. This book just spoke to me; all of it.


D. H. | 100 comments I really loved this book too. Once I get around to thinking up my three sentence review, I'll give it five stars.

Regarding the author's intent, I'm one of those who don't think it's relevant for what a reader takes out of the experience of reading, but at the same time, from an art point of view, I think it's interesting to see what made an author make decisions. So, I enjoyed the link Serendi. Thanks.

Also I liked what Nathan wrote about her exclusion from others.

I really liked the ending. (view spoiler)


Daniel (dward526) I really enjoyed this book, but the ending seemed a tad weak for me, anyone else think so?


Kiera (kieraldonnelly) | 9 comments I read it all in one sitting, as it only took a couple of hours. Overall I really enjoyed it and I loved Mori. It didn't even occur to me to question whether the magic was real or not, I just took it to be real. But the ending came so suddenly. I seriously had a moment where I thought, really? that's it? it's over?
I mean, I guess it ended in a sort of natural place after a confrontation with her mother and finding her place among with other people, but it still felt almost forced and anti-climatic.
As someone else said, it was also weird how magic went from being abstractly cause-effect to something much more material and substantial in the end.


message 29: by Karen (new)

Karen | 2 comments I enjoyed this book, but did not find the ending weak. We meet Mori when her life has been shattered and her conntections to the community that would help her recover from that event have been severed. I don't think Mori is a loner, she really needs a group to belong to to find happiness in her life.

To me, this is her journey to build new connections and community. I think the ending shows us the foundation of that network as well as the changes she needed to make within herself to establish that connection.

I thought the magic was real as well.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments D. H. wrote: "I did kind of roll my eyes at the last line (sorry Katie) because it was like the author looked directly at me and said, the men aren't saving the girl. She saved herself."

Oh I didn't get that, maybe because (view spoiler)


message 31: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg | 83 comments Katie wrote: "D. H. wrote: "I did kind of roll my eyes at the last line (sorry Katie) because it was like the author looked directly at me and said, the men aren't saving the girl. She saved herself."

Oh I didn..."

I think this may be confusion over the last line.
As she comes out of the battle with her mother she says "I didn't need them in the least, but it was lovely to see them." but the last line in the book is "Gate of Ivrel turns out to be really brill."


message 32: by Nathan (last edited Jun 05, 2013 12:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Greg wrote: "Katie wrote: "D. H. wrote: "I did kind of roll my eyes at the last line (sorry Katie) because it was like the author looked directly at me and said, the men aren't saving the girl. She saved hersel..."

As she was dragging heself ragged along a guard rail. I would say the men showed up in time to give her a ride.


Daniel (dward526) loved the last line in this book, it was appropriate.


Emily | 30 comments I loved this book even though I have only read a handful of the books referenced. Mori's character is what kept me devouring this book. (My first audio book and it was really good). I kind of knew that this wasn't going to be a huge sweeping action book so I just settled in and enjoyed being in this characters head. I was surprised that there was any action at all during the climax (fight with her mother).

For a 15 year old Mori was extremely intuitive and seemed older than her years. She had suffered tragedies, but wasn't broken from them. I thought her scenes with her ghost sister were really powerful. This book was all about the emotional journey. (I know that sounds lame). She had a lot of great insights that while I've thought of she writes in a much better way.

Writing from the first person as a teenaged girl can be tricky. Sound too adult and it seems unreal, but be too childlike and it's annoying. I thought Jo Walton found a great middle ground.

Overall this book got me to put a lot on my to read list. Can't wait to read some classic SF!


D. H. | 100 comments Greg wrote: "I think this may be confusion over the last line."

Yes, I misremembered the last line. Thanks.

The actual last line was wonderful.


Shaina (shainaeg) | 165 comments I never once considered the possibility that the magic want real. Maybe because she could actually see the fairies and they didn't seem imaginary. It ask seemed like a way magic could fit seamlessly into our world without being noticed.

Everyone in her book club seemed to read more than I found believable, every week they were discussing many different books, and everyone had always read at least a couple by each author. Maybe I'm just a slow reader, but I would have felt woefully behind with that group.


message 37: by Louise (last edited Jun 06, 2013 04:40AM) (new) - added it

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments Shaina wrote: "Everyone in her book club seemed to read more than I found believable, every week they were discussing many different books, and everyone had always read at least a couple by each author. "

This was the 70s. There were only three television channels, and they didn't air 24 hours :)


message 38: by Carl (new)

Carl V.  (carlv) | 4 comments Louise wrote: "Shaina wrote: "Everyone in her book club seemed to read more than I found believable, every week they were discussing many different books, and everyone had always read at least a couple by each au..."

And remember, back then books were a couple of hundred pages long, not a thousand as seems to be the norm today. :)


Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Carl wrote: And remember, back then books were a couple of hundred pages long, not a thousand as seems to be the norm today. :)

True. I recently got the audiobook of "Nine Prices in Amber" when it was on sale on Audible. It was five hours long, which was half of what this book was.


Stephanie (einahpets_reads) Shaina wrote: "Everyone in her book club seemed to read more than I found believable, every week they were discussing many different books, and everyone had always read at least a couple by each author. Maybe I'm just a slow reader, but I would have felt woefully behind with that group. "

I felt this way too! I feel like I read a lot of books as a kid, but I most definitely didn't read as quickly as Mori did. Not even close, not even now (where I feel good if I am reading 1 book a week). Who here actually has no trouble reading 5-10 books a week even now?


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Andrew (ajw315) | 7 comments Katie wrote: "Andrew wrote: "1) I feel the author did a poor job getting that point across because 2) the whole story is several lies upon lies and is influenced by the Unrealiable Narrator. So its hard to belie..."

The opening Entry, which she claims one might dismiss, because its just two kids playing.

Any time she does something because the fairies tell her too. Well she says several times the fairies don't speak full English/Welsh so she is doing what she wants but thinks its the fairies telling her what to do.

The protection spell she says she just made up as she went along, which means this being 1979 and all, that her protection spell was along the lines of "Circle Circle Dot Dot Now I Have My Cootie Shot".

So maybe 'lies' is too strong, but the magic is completely implied to be just a girl playing and dealing with her messed up life.

Now I began reading the story thinking, ok there will be a subtle build up and then by the end yes magic is real. Then after a few entries about the school I thought, ok the magic more of her escape kind of like Suckerpuch but with out the abuse.

Then after getting about 130ish pages in and the only two 'magic' events were causing the economic downfall of a town and daydreaming about her dead sister during Halloween I began to feel the magic wasn't real.


Lainey (ewriter91) | 22 comments My take on the "is the magic real or not" question is that it almost doesn't matter. She's certainly unreliable in places, but overall I just fell in love with Mori as a character. I saw a lot of myself in her experiences. I felt similarly out of touch with my classmates at her age and reading has always given me an intense sense of joy. I wasn't too disappointed by the ending. I think that it was a reflection of all she went through during the rest of the book, she just needed to confront her mother to realize her new strength. I'm so glad we read this book and I'm planning on recommending it to my friends.


message 43: by Mike (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mike I thought the book was pretty good while I was reading it, but when it was over, It left me thinking "so what?" Yes, we see Mor grow as a person throughout the book but beyond that not a whole lot happened.

The book references didn't really do anything for me either, because a lot of the time she was just listing a lot of books, and only sometimes mentioning some superficial part of the content of those books.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Stephanie wrote: "Shaina wrote: "Everyone in her book club seemed to read more than I found believable, every week they were discussing many different books, and everyone had always read at least a couple by each au..."

Maybe not quite ten (though maybe if they were all shorter works) but five is generally easy for me unless I've picked up a giant fantasy brick.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Andrew wrote: "Katie wrote: "Andrew wrote: "1) I feel the author did a poor job getting that point across because 2) the whole story is several lies upon lies and is influenced by the Unrealiable Narrator. So its..."

I took the beginning as "you probably won't believe me but here's what happened" and as for the fairies not speaking in full sentences, sure that casts doubt on her interpretation of the instructions but not on the fairies' existence or the fact they were telling her to do *something*. It seemed she had intuition and I felt the fairies might have had some non-verbal way of helping her come to the right conclusions, she expressed that some fiction got the *feel* of talking with them right.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Mike wrote: "I thought the book was pretty good while I was reading it, but when it was over, It left me thinking "so what?" Yes, we see Mor grow as a person throughout the book but beyond that not a whole lot..."

Yes, I felt there was a lot of title-dropping without enough depth on her opinions or the work's significance. Maybe there was more there about how they influenced her that I missed because of not having read them all myself.


message 47: by Nathan (last edited Jun 07, 2013 04:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments @Katie I found that the titles that mattered to her were ones she talked about later. Personally, I would not want to read Among Others: SF Literature Review 1979-1980. But that is just me.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Nathan wrote: "@Katie I found that the titles that mattered to her were ones she talked about later. Personally, I would not want to read Among Others: SF Literature Review 1979-1980. But that is just me."

Neither would I, I just felt too many titles were crammed in there without them having significance to the plot besides "Mor read this" and so the longer lists interrupted the flow for me and thus disrupted my enjoyment.


Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments On that we can agree. On the books she talked about, though It remeided me of how certian books can geally stick with you, or blow your mind, or change the way you look at things.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephanie wrote: "I felt this way too! I feel like I read a lot of books as a kid, but I most definitely didn't read as quickly as Mori did. Not even close, not even now (where I feel good if I am reading 1 book a week). Who here actually has no trouble reading 5-10 books a week even now? "

Erm. I've no trouble reading that many a week.


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