Wednesday, 12 December 2012
117/111 - The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
I bought this book very recently based on a recommendation on a website, and it was fantastic, really really good. It's set in the present day and is sort of post-apocalyptic. Julia is a twelve-year-old girl from California and she lives in a world where the planet one day starts to slow down and the days become longer and longer. At first this seems like a fairly harmless thing - who cares if the day is ten minutes longer? However the days and nights start to become longer and longer, until eventually each day and night are 72 hours long each. This means that crops no longer grow as there is not enough natural light, and then people have to make the decision of whether to continue to live in clock time or if they want to switch to real time. Eventually, the fabric of the earth itself starts to come apart because of the changes in gravity, and the magnetic poles change, and lots of animals begin to die.
However, this wasn't really what was most excellent about the book. The post-apocalyptic setting stuff was really interesting - what if the world suddenly started to slow down? But the really riveting parts of the book all had to do with Julia growing up. The author is incredible at conveying what it's like to be a twelve year old girl, whether it's a bully lifting up her t-shirt, or a former friend suddenly becoming bitchy for no reason, the awkwardness of buying your first bra. I saw a lot of myself in Julia, also having been a fairly awkward young lady. Another great aspect is the family dynamics - Julia is an only child and she has a fairly neurotic mother and distant father, who she discovers having an affair with her piano teacher. At a certain point, he has to choose whether to leave with the mistress or stay with his family. This could have been in any setting at all, and it would have still been utterly convincing and engaging.
Really really impressed by this book.