The Age of Miracles
By Karen Thompson Walker
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780812992977, June 26, 2012, 288pp.)
The Short of It:
The languid nature of the writing and the exploration of what time means to us as a society was just enough to lure me in.
The Rest of It:
What would you do if you woke up one day, only to be told that the earth is slowing and that the days are getting longer? I can’t speak for everyone but this gal would toss the covers back and jump for joy! There are never enough hours in the day and wouldn’t a few more hours be wonderful? Well, not if you are at work but if you were home, wouldn’t that be great? Oh yeah, and not if you’re the type who has trouble sleeping through 48-hour stretches of sunlight. Oh, and then when it does get dark, it stays dark too long which makes the farmers a bit unhappy. Okay, I guess I see the issue here.
Julia lives in a quiet, California suburb. She experiences what any tween would experience at her age: isolation, awkwardness, and an overwhelming need to fit in. But Julia’s life if further complicated by the slowing because when everyone realizes that there isn’t a quick fix for their situation, people are forced to decide between “clock time” where schedules are adhered to regardless of whether or not there is light, or “real-time” which focuses on Circadian rhythms. Neighbors are divided. Friendships lost. It’s a lot for a young girl to deal with.
As wonderful as the premise is, and putting all science aside, I had many issues with this book which affected my overall enjoyment. Here are some items that stuck out:
* Julia’s story takes place in a suburb in California, not in some small, sleepy little town out in the middle of nowhere. Californians would freak out!! Guns would be drawn, grocery stores would be looted and anyone coming within five feet of my collection of canned soup would be shot. I know this doesn’t put Californians in a good light, but it’s true. Too many people and food supplies questionable? Hope you’re wearing Kevlar.
* Julia’s angst is palpable but she is pretty even throughout the novel. I expected more from her in the way of growth and understanding. She is a bright kid, but doesn’t see the big picture or fully understand what her future holds. She seems almost unconcerned with everything going on around her. Her world is very narrow and because the story is told from her point of view, what we see as a reader is narrowed as well.
* Other relationships within the neighborhood are not explored. I was given brief glimpses of other people in the neighborhood, friends at school and the like, but I never got to know them and therefore, didn’t feel the sting when these relationships were severed. To me, so much more could have been done with the surrounding characters to demonstrate the utter loss that Julia felt.
* There is a lot of foreshadowing going on. The type where a character innocently drops a line about how it was the last time to do “such and such” but that she didn’t realize it at the time. This happened at least four times and each time, I felt it wasn’t needed.
What I did enjoy:
* The premise. Variations of it have been done before and with so many other books about the end-of-the-world, you sort of take it all with a grain of salt, but the whole idea of the earth slowing seemed possible to me.
* The exploration of “clock time” versus “real-time.” I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would live in that situation. I think I’d go the “real-time” route but if the rest of society went the other way, I’d be an outcast and always late for the party.
* The languid quality of the writing worked well in this story.
* Readability. Easy to read, albeit a tad slow. I can see lots of folks picking this one up this summer just to take them away from the day-to-day, even if only for a little while.
* The “un-pat” ending. I hate it when a book wraps-up too neatly so I was glad when this one didn’t. It allowed me to ponder the story for a bit more.
* The subtle encouragement to seriously consider sustainable farming. This message didn’t hit me over the head. It was subtle and injected effortlessly into the story but really made me think about food sources and the catastrophic effect something like this would have on our food supply.
This is a debut novel for the author and although much of it didn’t work for me, I would give this author another try. Mainly because it’s a tough premise and I could see her not wanting to get too dark with it (pun intended) and waffling between a happy and not-so-happy ending. When it comes to end-of-the-world novels though, there can never be TOO much in my opinion and with this one, I just wanted a little more more of everything. More angst. More destruction. More panic.
But, if you’d like to read this book for yourself, enter to win your own copy. Details below.
To visit The Age of Miracles website, click here.
To visit The Age of Miracles Facebook page, go here.
To view Karen’s other TLC tour stops, click here.
This giveaway is for one copy of The Age of Miracles and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on June 17, 2012 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.
To enter the giveaway, please click here. (THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED).
Source: Review and giveaway copy provided to me by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
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Filed under: Book Review | Tagged: © 2012 Book Chatter, Book Giveaway, Book Review, Book Tour, Coming of Age, Fiction, Karen Thompson Walker, Science Fiction, The Age of Miracles, TLC Book Tours | 24 Comments »