Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Published: June 2012

What They Say: 'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown...' What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.

What Elaine Says: This is a very interesting little novel let down a rather poor ending.  It's beautifully written and remarkably focused.  It could very easily have drifted off,  like every other doomsday book out there, and focused on the terrors that face us, come our inevitable annihilation but you know what?  This book didn't do that.   It is not a novel about the big things.  It's much quieter and more intimate than that. 

So what would happen if the world was slowly advancing towards it's end?  We'd carry on of course.  We would adapt as best we could and continue living our lives as normally as possible.  That's what this is about.  How do we face the mundane, everyday, with the sword of Damocles dangling over us?

Thompson's writing is really quite beautiful in parts.  I have to admit to being surprised by how competent this novel was for a first time novelist and considering it falls into the new (and confusing) 'young adult' genre.

Unfortunately, the ending of this book was very frustrating.  I don't think I'll be revealing too much by saying this book was never going to have a grand finale but while the novel ended when it should, it ended in a way that felt like the author realised she needed to hand it in the next day and not like someone who had simply told their story.  I'm afraid to say it let the whole novel down.  Which really is a pity for such a book as this.

Elaine's Rating: 7/10

"There was no footage to show on television, no burning buildings or broken bridges, no twisted metal or scorched earth, no houses sliding off slabs.  No one was wounded.  No one was dead.  It was at the beginning, a quite invisible catastrophe."

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