Review, Tour & Giveaway: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles

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.

Karen Thompson Walker

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.

TLC Book Tours


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.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

24 thoughts on “Review, Tour & Giveaway: The Age of Miracles”

  1. My first thought when I read longer days was more time to get things done, but I can see that there would be a downside. It sounds like this author has a lot of potential.

    1. They are, and had the rest of the novel been a bit more developed… it would have been a win for me. I see promise, though.

  2. Just so you know, I don’t think you’ll ever be hired by the California Tourist Board. I tend to get drawn to these “it might just happen” scenarios and this sounds like a good one — somewhat plausible. And I would be a MESS with the whole real-time vs. clock time. I have enough problems with Daylight Savings Time as it is.

    1. What can I say? There are parts of Cali that are less busy and hectic than what comes to mind when I think of California, but any big city is going to panic when the food stops rolling in. Just think, as a mother to a kid…if your kid’s life depended on that one can of soup, you’d kill for it. No? When the big quake hit, we were civilized to a degree, but the looting began not 2 hours into it and then everyone sort of panicked a bit and it was just a small area if you look at how big the state is. No gas. No money from the ATM (because there was no power) and people turned into idiots. Not me of course. I was not looking pretty with my uncombed hair and ramshackle attire but I refrained from being an idiot. Although I did beg someone for acigarettewhich was odd since I didn’t smoke.

  3. Even though you didn’t like this one, I’m somehow now even more excited to read it. I don’t always these ‘big concept’ books, but I do often enjoy the conversation after I read them! I’ll try to squeeze this one in during the next few weeks:-)

    1. There is a lot to talk about so when you read it, come back and we’ll chat. Rhapsody Jill and I have been having some fun side conversations.

  4. Thanks for the giveaway. It is an interesting enough premise, that I would be willing to give it a go.

    1. Do tell. What did you love about it? I did feel that the languid quality of the writing lent itself well to the topic, but I’m not sure that was intentional.

  5. I really enjoyed the YA series about the asteroid hitting the moon. You are right, for a debut novel to wade into this premise is brave and maybe a bit ambitious. But, if it fell into my hands, I would have a hard time not reading it because I love end of the world stuff.

  6. thx for your candid review. I think I’ll wait on this one a bit. There’s likely other better summer reads out there. I need a bit more pace presently. hmm

  7. I feel like I’ve read so many mixed things about this book… I’m still a little torn about reading it but am sort of leaning toward giving it a try.

  8. I’ve been wondering about this book but not sure if I wanted to read it. The few reviews I read were mixed and didn’t help me. I’ve been looking forward to your thoughts and liked your list of what you enjoyed but find it disappointing neighborhood character weren’t explored more and foreshadowing like that usually irritates me. I’m going to read this book at some point but I’m not in a rush.

    I’d react similarly if I found out the days were getting longer. I would be thrilled to have more time in the day. I prefer sleeping in the dark but I learned to sleep in daylight while doing 24-hour tours in the DA’s office and esp. if I got more time in a day!
    I’ve always been surprised by how quickly looting happens when there’s an earthquake, blackout or some other event and by how viciously greedy people get.

    I find it curious why there was such a bidding war for this book. I guess I’m completely out of touch with what’s popular with the masses now, the reading masses that is!

    Thank you for the giveaway!

    1. I think the marketing team did an excellent job with this one, hence its popularity. If you consider the discussion aspect, I would absolutely suggest reading it because the whole real time vs. clock time thing could have been its own story but it wasn’t fully explored which disappointed me. Plus, I’m not sure who the audience is for this book. It’s not really a young adult read but it could be. I feel as if the author was trying to keep it generic so that it would appeal to both camps (adults and young adults) but I think that affected the story.

  9. Does sound like the author has potential – I’m wondering if a different editor might have helped with some of the problems you had with the book.

  10. I do like reading novels that try to show how people respond to crisis, so I entered the giveaway despite your reservations on this one. I’m listening to a The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell right now about the breakdown of American civilization by a massive zombie outbreak. One of the most literary zombie novels I’ve come across so far!

  11. I’m very intrigued by the premise (all science aside) of this book, and seeing your list of issues has made me even more interested in reading it to see if I feel the same way about it as you did.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one for the tour Ti!

  12. Eeek, not happy you had issues with this one. I’ll be reading it soon. I didn’t read your review – just kind of skimmed for thoughts so I’ll be back when I’ve read it for more details.

  13. I truly loved this book, It kept me glued to each page until I finished it, Loved it. It started me off on a tangent of Dystopian themed books, (new to this genre and loving it!) I realise so many books I tend to read these days are written with the 15 yr old girl in mind, and I am 43!! This book got me thinking about “what if” you know?

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