Book Review: The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

‘It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophies 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. (from 

This is an incredibly difficult book to review and give a definite opinion of. On the one hand I flew threw it and fully appreciated the beautiful writing. Seriously one of the best I’ve read this year. In that respect it’s a massive success. The problem perhaps lies with the marketing. I picked up this book expecting an end of the world dystopia. The premise is intriguing and the implications fascinating. I didn’t get it.

Instead, this is a coming of age story of a twelve year old girl, with the earth slowing only a background, and at times a very vague one. It is beautifully written. The author captures exactly the pain and awkwardness of it’s main character Julia. BUT this could have been just as easily achieved in a normal setting, because the stand out moments are those of a childhood friend drifting away, a first crush and the realisation that our parents aren’t perfect.

There is very little explanation of the cause and solutions of the slowing and even the implications such as food production, gravity and the effect on human sleep rhythms or behaviours are only very vaguely touched upon. Even the cover of this book gives a sci-fi feel. It’s absolutely NOT. Interestingly, the US cover has a very different cover suggesting more of a contemporary feel. 

I did enjoy this book, but couldn’t help feel that it just wasn’t what it promised. Fortunately I was able to appreciate it for what it actually was and can absolutely see that Karen Thompson Walker is an author to watch in the future. However, not everyone is going to be as accepting as I am and I think it’s only fair to warn you that this book may not be what you think.  

Published by Simon & Schuster UK June 2012
Copy received from the publisher for review purposes

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