Annie F. (Dallas, TX)
The Age of Miracles
I found this book to be more depressing than I anticipated. Like many dystopian novels, it frames a cataclysmic event that will change the Earth forever, in this case, the slowing of the Earth’s rotation. But unlike other dystopian novels, there is no dire action in the book, no wars being fought, no cannibals to be avoided, no urban strife to survive, no evil government to rebel against. Nothing to do and nothing to divert the mind from the realization of the inexorable disintegration of the Earth as we currently know it—the death of birds, the withering of green things, the increase of radiation.
It's well written. The voice of the narrator, a young California girl, is very authentic and is the strongest aspect of the book. She is focused on what every 11 year old is concerned with—her friendships, her crush on a boy, her family life. She registers the catastrophe, but does so almost peripherally. Life goes on, everyone adjusts. It's this helplessness and acceptance I found depressing.
This would be a good crossover, discussible book for teens.
Judy K. (Sunland, CA)
A dreamy, introspective dystopian tale
For a story of future dystopia, The Age of Miracles has a dreamy, introspective tone. Events are related from the viewpoint of a sixth-grade girl, an aware and intelligent only child, giving the impression that kids handled the changes better than the adults. In fact, the whole story was as much a study in adult weaknesses and flaws as it was about middle-school antics. Karen Thompson Walker writes with a unique imagination and great skill. Her straightforward style conceals a deeper subtext of insight into our current world. I think mature teens would enjoy the novel as well. It would make a good graduation present.
Dee H. (Greenfield, CA)
Age of Miracles or Age of Impending Disaster...
The is the story of a young girl on the edge of adolescence whose world is changed by an unprecedented global event. The rotation of the earth has begun to slow and no one knows why it began nor how to stop it. Julia is a sensitive girl whose loneliness suffuses this book with a gentle sadness. It is neither science fiction nor post-apocalyptic fiction, though it borders on both. One feels that the apocalypse has begun, but the end is not yet in sight. I really liked this book, but wanted more answers to the scientific questions it raised. I realize it is more about the sense of loss and confusion of people who can no longer take day and night for granted, but it left me hanging somehow, with no sense of conclusion. I would recommend this book to others for both enjoyment and discussion.
Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
A YA book for adults?
As a former 4 - 12 school librarian I was intrigued by this novel that follows a middle schooler - Julia - and how the changes, both internal (she is growing up) and external (the world's rotation is slowing down), affect her actions and reactions to her life, her friends and her family. I could not decide if this was a YA (young adult) novel that would appeal to adults or an adult novel that would appeal to teens. Many of the topics covered - illness, adultery, death, loss of friendships, ecological disaster - are adult topics conveyed in a very adult manner and yet the narrator is a 6th grader dealing with these topics over the course of perhaps two years. There is a certain hopelessness and inevitability to the novel that may be very disturbing to the reader. This novel might be appropriate for a parent/child book group.
I appreciated the work on the part of the author to give reality to the science fiction part of the novel. The response of the world and its inhabitants to the rotational slowing felt logical and "real."
Gail G. (Northbrook, Illinois)
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This is a plausible story with frightening premises. I could not put down the book. All of the horrible possibilities described in the story could come true and in fact we already experience some frightening environmental occurrences now. Global warming and atmospheric destruction due to what we put in the air is a reality for us today. The horrors of what was happening to the earth kept me glued to the books' fatal attractions. The major characters are believable for the time in their life. Their reactions were honest and right for their age. Julia, the 12 year old major character looked at life through 12 year old eyes :she was not sophisticated but acted her age in responding to her life's experiences, both with her friends and adults.
There was an interesting response given to those who lived in the story. I call it a displacement behavior towards time. I found the story line to be believable and extremely functional.
Elizabeth L. (Salem, Oregon)
This wonderful novel is a great addition to similarly themed books ("Children of Men"), movies ("Last Night" of 1998), and TV (Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The Inner Light"). Told (freshly) from the perspective of a child, it tells of a difficult coming of age during a time when it isn't clear if there will be much of a tomorrow. But the story is touching not maudlin, aided in large part by excellent writing.
The best of my First Impression books so far!
Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
yet another way the world ends . . .
The combination of preadolescent turmoil and global turmoil work well together. Yes, there will be overlaps in postapoc novels, just as there are in love stories, mysteries. But if the characters are fresh and the story compelling, I'll keep reading and enjoying.