Saturday, January 26, 2013

A story about solitude: The Age of Miracles

Title: The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
My Rating: 3.2/5

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty."

This refreshing debut novel, full of poetic language and subtle emotions, tells the story of 11-year-old Julia. The world she is used to is changing drastically, starting with what the media calls "the Slowing"--the decrease in the speed of Earth's rotation. The slowing makes the days longer and longer, the nights shorter and shorter. As a result gravity is affected, tsunamis wreck the shore, birds fall dying from the sky... and soon enough the society is in chaos. 

While the story gives the big picture (the society, the Slowing, aka the sci-fi/dystopian aspect of the story) just enough attention, the main plot focuses on how the Slowing affected Julia's life. Essentially The Age of Miracles is a coming-of-age story about Julia dealing with family and friendship problems, falling in and out of love, and ultimately becoming her own person. The Slowing and the bleak big picture adds a subtle, almost invisible but definitely tangible sadness and urgency to the whole story, which is beautifully unconventional, and certainly takes some courage for the author to do so.

With so many good things said, why I couldn't give the book a higher rating is mainly because, although it is very evocatively written and has a very well-imagined world, it lacks the certain "something" that can pull me in. That said, as much as I appreciated the story, I wasn't attached to it. I cared about Julia, and her boy friend/boyfriend Seth (I'm actually really fond of him), but only to an extent. Unlike the 4- or 5-star books I rated, this one simply didn't do it for me. It is a smooth, slow-moving read, with beautiful language, but not a lot of personal appeal.

Vanessa :]

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