Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Literally the Best Reviews: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker
Random House
304 Pages

It is extraordinarily rare that I review the same author in consecutive reviews, but once I finished The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker, I immediately went back to the library to pick up her first book, The Age of Miracles. There are a lot of similarities between the two novels, but I think I ended up liking The Age of Miracles just a little bit more. It had just enough of that science-fiction edge for me to be totally engrossed.

The world wakes up one Saturday morning to discover that the Earth is slowly losing speed. Rotation is slowing and both days and nights start to become longer and longer. Gravity becomes affected, and migratory animals suffer first. As each day gets longer and hotter, and each night gets longer and colder, life becomes a matter of survival for humanity. 

Julia is the main character of this novel. She is a young girl, on the cusp of adolescence when the slowing occurs. Already going through numerous changes, the change in the environment strikes her just a little bit more. She becomes more aware of tension within her family and her friends. When the days are so affected that the government decides to step in with a standardized time, havoc ensues with factions breaking up neighborhoods, families, and friends. People who shun the new standardized time are shunned and even ridiculed to the point of them packing up and leaving for a place where like minded people congregate in their own survival camps.

The slowing of the Earth does not get resolved throughout the course of the book. The characters are still dealing with the effects on weather, agriculture, and the people themselves. The people had to adapt. Julia had to grow up much differently than she would have otherwise. Her tale of love and yearning as a teen girl and hope that the world will return to normal morph into a new normal of wondering how long it will be before the sun rises again, and will there be enough food grown in the daylight hours to help them through the long, long nights of winter. 

This book is a coming of age story that centers on the changes that are taking place with the Earth and humanity, as well as the changes that Julia is beginning to go through as she enters her turbulent teens. The uncertainties that come with that age are compounded by the uncertainties that face the entire planet. 

As always, I enjoy character driven novels. This story, while also dealing with a global catastrophe, focuses on Julia as she makes her way through this life. Her thoughts and actions dominate the plot and are intriguing. Her thoughts and actions at the beginning of the book are on the juvenile side, as they should considering her character. As the story grows, and Julia with it, she shows a growing maturity sometimes forced upon her by the unusual circumstances. She also loses her innocence in such a way that things she took for granted are exposed for the flawed things they truly are.

This was the second of the books written by Karen  Thompson Walker that I’ve reviewed. As I said at the beginning, I liked The Age of Miracles just a little more than The Dreamers, but both were great novels. I await in eager anticipation of the next book by Walker. Until then, I can recommend this book for you to read.

Craig Bacon thinks his wife makes the world go around. And while doing the single parent thing while she was on vacation, he learned she is a superhero.