The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Bond Street Books, an imprint of Random House
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Eleven-year-old Julia is living an ordinary life in her California suburb when she learns, along with the rest of the world, that the earth’s rotation has begun to slow. As the days and nights get longer, the pull of gravity changes, and the environment begins to affect everything, Julia’s life changes in ways both large and small. As she deals with the fact that her friends are drifting away and her parents’ marriage might be in trouble, she also has to face the fact that the earth’s rotation is going to be a constant factor in every aspect of her life going forward.
So, I really liked this book. I didn’t love it, and there were a few specific reasons why, but let me start with what I did like about it. I loved Julia and her coming of age story was very believable to me. Yes, the book is somewhat about a catastrophic event that changes everything, but more than that it is about this incredibly difficult time in a young girl’s life. A time where everything is changing anyway – friends, hormones, boys, etc., and in Julia’s case her family was falling apart too, not to mention the MAJOR changes going on in the world around her due to the earth’s rotation slowing. I thought Walker did a really nice job creating this true pre-teen girl, who reacted to the changes the way an eleven-year-old really would – by reflecting on the events in terms of how they affected her, and also the atmospheric changes were in some cases minor compared to what she was dealing with at home and at school. It rang true to me and definitely kept me turning the pages.
I was fascinated by the breakdown of society type elements thrown into the novel. For example, the debate between real-timers and clock-timers, I can see how that would be a huge issue should this happen in real life and I thought that Walker handled it realistically. Also I found it interesting how Walker introduced the many effects the rotational changes had on people – from the sickness, to the preparations for the end of the world, to the insane sunburns, etc. – I was captivated by all of it and couldn’t stop reading.
What I didn’t like so much was the ending. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say I was incredibly disappointed and leave it at that. Also I thought the massive amount of foreshadowing was a little weird. Not the foreshadowing, exactly, but how it was done – Julia would drop a huge clue on the reader, and what she was alluding to would end up to be minor in the grand scheme of things. I just didn’t get why all the foreshadowing, to be honest.
Those minor quibbles aside, I did really enjoy The Age of Miracles. I thought it was well-written and truly made me think. In addition, Julia was a great main character that I had no trouble getting on board with. Overall, a solid read that I definitely would recommend.