Thursday, June 14, 2012
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
A slow, quite story, which might seem a little odd for a science/fiction dystopia book. Julia lives very much in her own head. She is a thinker, and is looking back at this thing that happened when she was 11, which we learn at the end of the book was ten years ago. Julia is a philosopher. She does a lot of wondering, and lot of watching people and thinking about why they do what they do.
The story proceeds quietly, as the Earth turns more and more slowly and serious consequences begin to appear: birds die, whales beach themselves as the tides change, disturbances in the magnetic field, and then the syndrome that begins to effect people. The main storyline is interrupted with Julia's musings and wondering about life. I often don't like books like this. I find that the musings often break up the flow of the story and it's just annoying, but it worked quite well in this case.
The world is undergoing this gigantic crises, and people are struggling to live as normally as possible. The government decides on "clock time." No matter how off things get, everyone is to follow the 24-hour clock. Some fight against this and continue to stay on "real time." Julia observes this all happening, but she's also coping with more common problems, like bullying at school, her parent's rocky relationship and her best friend dumping her.
The end didn't work for me. I didn't think it made very much sense. You know early on that Julia is looking back on this event from some time in the future. She makes comments about how little they knew then, how the worst was coming. Things were deteriorating rapidly. The day had double in length, and both clock time and real time were failing to work. More and more people were sickening from the syndrome, which for some seemed to be fatal. There were beginning to be power outages as more and more power had to be used for food growth. And then we jump ten years later and...nothing.
No one seems to know anymore than they did before. There was no explanation of how people were living. Was everyone still on forced clock time? What happened to the food supply? Are there any animals left? WHAT'S HAPPENING! All Julia really says is how she might go to med school...so I guess the world is still functioning. Which seems unlikely somehow, unless there have been some serious changes. The world Julia was describing ten years ago was not a sustainable one. So I found that quite annoying. She mentions how humanity had "come to suspect that we were dying." OK...so what's going on? It was all very unsatisfying.
It is quite clear in the book that this happened in 2012. It mentions how it was the year the Mayans had predicted this year as the end of the world. There are lots of little cultural references. Not too heavy handed, but clear.
The Age of Miracles comes out June 26, 2012.
Posted by Arianna at 9:54 PM