Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Our end-of-the-year book club read was chosen from a selection of books from "best of 2012" lists. The book is a first-person narrative covering a year or so in the life of a 12-year-old girl in present day(ish) San Diego, as the axis of the earth suddenly and catastrophically slows.

I finished this book about a week ago, and I'm still not entirely sure what I think overall, but here are a few of my assessments:

1) The book is enjoyable. I found it an easy and interesting read from start to finish. I wouldn't say it was a very deep book, though. The writing and storytelling were straightforward. There wasn't much philosophizing. I liked the book, but I don't know that I'll be thinking about it for months to come.

2) This is not a science fiction book. Although the author clearly thought through the implications of the earth slowing, if you're looking for a book that gets into the hard science of it all you will be disappointed. In fact, I think that's one of the most interesting things about the book. The premise is apocalyptic and science-fictiony, but that's not what the book is. It's just about a 12-year-old girl, experiencing the shifting friendships and crushes and parental dynamics of a 12-year-old girl...just in an apocalyptic context. And the apocalypse in this case is slow (or at least relatively slow). The earth slows gradually, and the effects happen gradually, and much of life goes on as usual, with the changes manifesting themselves incrementally. This is what I found most interesting and most compelling about the storytelling.

3) I found the voice believable. I could see a lot of my younger self in the protagonist, and she seemed like a believably-drawn 12-year-old. It was also fun to see the novel set in southern California. It was very easy for me to picture. A lot of what I've read set in California is not set in the middle-class suburban neighborhoods I know, and I enjoyed the familiarity.

Overall, I wouldn't say this is my favorite of the books I've read for our book club, or the most discussion-worthy (although we haven't discussed it yet, and we always find things to discuss), but it was an interesting read and I enjoyed reading it.

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