Review : The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

March 9, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Karen Thompson Walker, Post-Apocalyptic, Reviews 7 ★★★½

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House on June 26, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 294
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
“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.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

Full-disclosure: I love anything with an apocalyptic slant, so I was predisposed to like this book.  I was very intrigued when I read the description of “The Age of Miracles,” with its unique premise of an Earth whose rotation is slowing down.

The story is narrated by Julia, now a young woman, but ten years old at the time the world first realizes what is happening to Earth. We never learn why the Earth has slowed, but nevertheless, the implications are profound.  Many of them seem obvious: dying of crops, drastic swings in temperature, etc.  Others were more creative on the part of Karen Thompson Walker, such as: should days continue to be counted as 24 hours, or should they expand as the rotation slows?Walker’s writing style is warm, tender, and very low-key.  Sometimes surprisingly low-key; characters adapted fairly quickly to what is seemingly the end of the world.  Many reviews referred to this book as a coming of age story.  I didn’t see that aspect.  Yes, when the events begin, Julia is a young girl, and yes, she eventually purchases a bra, but that does not equate to a coming of age story.  Even though the present day Julia is a young woman, the events were supposed to be portrayed through the eyes of a child, but Julia’s thought processes seemed too mature for even a person twice her age.  I continued to forget that she was supposed to be a child, and I wondered if I’d somehow missed Julia transforming into a middle-aged woman.This was a fairly minor quibble, though, and was more than made up for by Walker’s lovely writing.  I would probably have enjoyed more a raucous, wild end of the world story, but there is something to be said for a quiet, elegant apocalypse.
Review posted at Goodreads and Amazon


7 Responses to “Review : The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker”

  1. Dabin Han

    sounds pretty good! I love the cover! It’s so simple and doesn’t have too much going on to make my eyes go mad. Nice review!

  2. Jaclyn Canada

    Interesting! The concept is unique and would really have me thinking. Loved reading your review of it 😀 “Something to be said for a quiet, elegant apocalypse” is probably my favorite part and makes me think of someone that passes in their sleep. I’m definitely intrigued…even if she seems more mature than her age while reading. Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven

  3. Chelsea

    Sounds Interesting. I enjoy apocalyptic books also. You should check out Erica Stevens’ blog. She is an author and she writes a blog series called the Survivor Chronicles. She posts a chapter every Monday and I have really enjoyed it.

    Chelsea @ Starbucks & Books Obsession

  4. Books_Buying_Beauty

    The earth is slowing but everyone is going on as normal. Might have to add this to my ever growing wish list.

    Hopefully Julia is just wise beyond her years cause that part would annoy me a little bit if its meant to be a 10-year old.

    Books Buying Beauty

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