Thursday, 5 July 2012

Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

In One Line:  A tale of an apocalypse that happens very, very slowly. 

Genre: bleaker-than-bleak apocalpto-drama. 
The Gist:
Julia is a normal little girl in a normal little town somewhere in the vast, American west. Her age is the ‘age of miracles’, otherwise known as Middle School, where girls suddenly have to wear bras and boys become intriguing. And then something uniquely terrible happens. The Earth’s rotation begins to slow down. Days and nights become longer, clocks become almost irrelevant, people get very scared, and then things start to die. Like, EVERYTHING.  How does a young girl grow up in a world that’s coming to an end?
The Cover:
What I like about this cover is that it gives you absolutely no clue as to the pain the pages contain. I was reading this on the tube, brazenly holding it up so that everybody could see what I was reading (because I’m like that) and I just wanted someone to understand what I was going through. THIS IS A HORROR STORY! I wanted to yell: SOMEBODY SAVE ME FROM ALL THE ANGUISH! But you just can’t tell a thing from the cover. Is this a bad thing? Probably not. Because if it was immediately clear how painful this book is to read then I’m pretty sure that nobody would pick it up. Except for the weirdos. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • There is no denying that this book is beautiful. I was gripped from the very first page, and the image of a “tumour blooming under the skin”. I got the heebie geebies straight away, and anything that gives me such an instant, visceral reaction has to be a good thing. 
  • The fact that the point of view comes from an eleven year old girl means you don’t ever get bogged down in science fiction. You are guided through the crisis by her, and your understanding is limited by her understanding. I think some hardcore science fiction fans may be disappointed by this, but I find it refreshing. It means you get an honest, human reaction to the apocalypse, instead of something overly technical. 
  • This is a beautiful human story, as well as an epic world-ending drama. As the crisis unfolds, so does Julia’s life. Her friends move away, either physically or emotionally, her parents grow apart, her mother goes a little bit cray cray. It’s a sensitive portrayal, which makes the overarching turmoil of the environment all the more gut-wrenching. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • This book hurt me. It actually hurt me. Very rarely I get a proper physical reaction to a book, which thrilling as well as being rather painful. The first time it happened was when I read Beloved by Toni Morrison, by the end of which I had nearly actually thrown up. Well this book gave me the stomach curdle so much I nearly had to stop reading. I came very, very close to putting the book down halfway through with absolutely no intention of continuing. Because I felt so sick, and so sad. So why did I keep reading? Partly because of the beauty of the writing, and partly for my need for hope.
  • Did somebody say the work bleak? If you didn’t hear me say it the first time, let me say it again: BLEAK. As the world stops turning things start falling apart. Birds fall from the sky, plants die, humans get ill. It’s horrible. Truly horrible. And unlike apocalyptic movies like Armageddon or Deep Impact, where you know Bruce Willis is going to save the day, this book has no heroes. Nobody knows what is going on or how to solve it. Let me say it one more time: BLEAK. 
  • If you’re into your science at all, you’re going to have some serious issues with this book. If the world’s rotation were to slow it would take thousands upon thousands of years, not a few desperate months. So if you’re a science geek, you may want to stay away from this book, as it might make you angry. 

The Hypersomnia Test:
It didn’t pass. Mostly because I kept having to put the book down and take deep breaths. And as I already mentioned, I went through a phase of wondering whether or not I was going to keep reading the book at all. But I did continue, and i practically sped-read the last half, just because I wanted to finish it and move on to something happy as quickly as possible. 
Final Verdict:
So let’s be straight, this book isn’t officially YA. It’s marketed as literary adult, but I decided that I wanted to read it because of the youthful narrator, and because the whole dystopia-apocalypse thing is still a massive deal in YA. I actually find it quite intriguing that this book got sold as adult, because essentially the concept is very YA. Except, seeing as I nearly puked whilst reading it, as well as nearly cried tears of hopeless despair, I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teens. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. This book is incredible, but please only read if you can handle the nihilistic misery. Did I mention the word bleak??? 
Further Reading:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Pure by Julianna Baggott
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

To buy The Age of Miracles click HERE!!!

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you do your reviews. Found your blog as I was doing some searching on a book I just read. Now a proud follower :) Thanks for the awesome reviews!