The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Thoughtful, dystopian story of a young girl's life in a world where the spinning of Earth has slowed. Originally published for adults, it's been repackaged for a teen audience and I think it will find a good home with them. I wish it could have found a little more originality beyond the premise, however.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1471124851

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The Age of Miracles was one of those much-talked about books that I never got the time to read on its first go around. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I did. Anyway, it got debut author Thompson Walker a seven figure deal after a bidding war and it has dystopian themes, so it is right up my alley and not the sort of thing I'd usually miss. And so, I was happy that Simon & Schuster decided to reissue it for a YA market and even happier that they decided to send me a copy.

The rotation of the Earth suddenly begins to slow. A few minutes are lost one day and a few more the next. As the days and nights grow longer and longer, the consequences of this slowing, as it's called, become more and more worrying. Crops fail. Water levels rise. Birds fall from the sky. Power is rationed because so much of it is needed to maintain the greenhouses feeding the world. People fall prey to a new and strange sickness. And there are other tensions - about what should be done, about the end of the world, between the clock-timers (who stick to the old routines) and the real-timers (who go with the slowing flow).

The story is told from the point of view of Julia, a tween American girl like any other. Julia has all the concerns of girls her age: bitchy friends, annoying parents and teachers, unattainable boys. The slowing exacerbates the conflicts in her parents' marriage but it also brings her close to Seth, the boy of her dreams and longstanding crush. And so Julia's adolescence is played out against a background of a declining world. Just as possibilities should be opening up for her, they seem to be closing down. But the human spirit never wants to be fully crushed and to some extent, Julia finds her way.

It's beautifully written with careful but evocative prose. And it's beautifully planned, too. Each scene and plot point segues seamlessly into the next. Each character fits into a perfectly realised hole. By the end, you really feels as though the novel's jigsaw is complete. And Julia has an interesting, authentic voice. I really wanted the best for her in this most demanding of coming-of-ages and my heart ached for things that didn't work out for her. The Age of Miracles was a true pleasure to read.

But it's not perfect. The physics behind the main premise are flakey at best, and even if these things don't matter too much to you, you'll acknowledge that some people don't want to suspend every last little bit of disbelief they possess. Just some would be better. And, for all its polish, the novel fails to deliver any surprises. What you think will happen does happen. It would have been nice to have had at least one of my expectations confounded.

Even so, The Age of Miracles will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who likes a dystopian setting and enjoys a coming-of-age story. It has a great deal to recommend it.

Other favourite dystopian stories of ours include After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross and Winter Damage by Natasha Carthew. Older readers might enjoy The Godless Boys by Naomi Wood.

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Buy The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker at


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