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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
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The Age of Miracles (edition 2012)

by Karen Thompson Walker

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2,1692672,994 (3.67)136
Member:redpersephone
Title:The Age of Miracles
Authors:Karen Thompson Walker
Info:Random House (2012), Preloaded Digital Audio Player
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Library-loan, read, 2012

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Despite differences in plot -- a teenager's post-murder afterlife in The Lovely Bones, and civilization's slow, steady collapse in the aftermath of disaster in The Age of Miracles -- the thoughtful young heroines of these melancholy, haunting stories are similar to one another.… (more)
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» See also 136 mentions

English (270)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (276)
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
A Post-Apocalyptic Book Club Selection.
I enjoyed this book; it was a bit different than your typical apocalyptic novel. No rough men marching the wastelands here, no cannibal gangs desperate for survival.
Instead, we see the slow apocalypse through the eyes of a young girl. For the young, everything is new... so the gradual falling apart of civilization is somehow equivalent to the more mundane traumas of adolescence.
The earth's rotation is slowing, and in many ways this is a slow-moving book. it's also sweet and evocative. I felt like the author is probably referencing tropes of a whole genre of books that I don't really read... mainstream literary fiction that's kind of woman-oriented and deals with quotidian drama, perhaps? She's taking this and meshing it with the end of the world... and overall, I felt that it worked.
I particularly liked how, faced with an inevitable disaster of unprecedented scope, society here starts focusing on completely inconsequential things (such as which hours of a lengthened day people choose to sleep)and basing hatred and bigotry on these things. So typical.
However, the book doesn't give a wholly negative view on humanity - there are heartbreakingly touching moments, as well an effective depiction of the drive to persevere, even in the face of hopelessness. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Beautifully written, epically bleak. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
The story of the gradual end of the world told through the eyes of a 12 year old girl. With the Earth's rotation slowing, Julia's life manages to maintain some sort of normalcy - loneliness and awkwardness are more troubling to her than the slow disintegration of life. I liked the way things progressed slowly - everyone tries to maintain the fiction that life is going on as before, that things will somehow be okay (although surely there'd have been more rioting/crime than seems to occur in this version of events). I wondered if this was meant to reflect the kind of self-absorption of a 12 year old and her inability to take in the dramatic changes that were unfolding around her.

Other reviewers have critiqued the science of the book, but the author sets up the slowing of the earth as a kind of magic - something beyond the understanding of humanity - and I think that gives her leeway to be loose with its effects. It's a striking concept as written here anyway.

In the end I didn't quite care enough about the narrator (in the end this is basically a coming of age story), but the writing was dreamily effective and the idea bold enough to carry the book. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
Really great premise, and I loved the intertwining of Julia's life as a normal pre-teenager, experiencing all those lovely things that middle school forces you to confront (body insecurities, broken friendships, shifting social patterns, emerging sexuality), and the very serious threat of the world ending as the human race knows it. (How many of us felt like that at that age, when the universe was unraveling around us?) However, I felt like at some times the phrasing of Julia's thoughts felt repetitive and with forced perspective to the future: "we didn't know things would be like this..."; "only later did we realize..."; "much has been studied about this since...". I might have preferred the story told in present tense, instead of this whole reflection that Julia seems to be having in her twenties to the first year of the slowing. Although, on the other hand, it does frame the story nicely, in that Julia is able to recall how she felt when she was at that age versus how she thinks of things "now". ( )
  elle-kay | Jan 27, 2016 |
A colleague highly recommended this book to me, but oh dear, it was terrible. I didn't like the narrator at all, and nothing ever happened except go to school and come home again. Considering the rotation of the planet had slowed and humans were being threatened with extinction, you would think there would be a sense of urgency throughout the book, but it just flat-lined. Not only did Earth's rotation slow until a day lasted 70 hours, so did the plot. With only 288 pages, it felt double that and I thought the end was never going to come. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
"The Age of Miracles"? More like: "The Age of Disasters"! Before I get into why I say that, I'll elaborate on what the book is about. First off, it's actually a very well written book. it's told from the point of view of a middle school aged girl and the events in the story take place are told through her perspective. Everything was fine, until the days started to get longer. First it was only by a few minutes everyday, then it escalated to half an hour, then a full hour, then hours, until people who were stuck on the side of the hemisphere facing the Sun found that the suns hostile rays make the outside world totally inhospitable. people were forced to permanently take refuge inside their household as a slight reprieve to escape a heat-related death.

The reason I call it "The Age of Disasters" is because of how terribly things spiral out of control. Everyday lives are thrown out of whack as people scramble to reorient themselves into their new reality. I went into the book having almost no prior knowledge about its plot. I thought it would be a lot happier than what it was on account of it having the word "Miracles" in the title. And boy was I wrong.

The ending of this book doesn't even come close to the word "bittersweet." It's just plain bitter to me. It doesn't delve too deeply into the fate of humanity, but a 20 year time-skip does show you what becomes of the main character and her family, sans her love interest who she hasn't seen since the suns powerful rays gave him cancer and forced him to move to new mexico for treatment. They promised that they'd keep in touch, and meant it, but due to unknown reasons the letters the main character sent to him were never returned and they never saw one another again. My guess is that the treatment failed and he didn't survive, or maybe they never made it to new mexico at all.

This is a great, albeit depressing book.
added by morgan434 | editReading the actual book, who else? Me (Apr 17, 2015)
 
What sets the story apart from more run-of-the-mill high-concept novels is Ms. Walker’s decision to recount the unfolding catastrophe from the perspective of Julia, who is on the verge of turning 12. Her voice turns what might have been just a clever mash-up of disaster epic with sensitive young-adult, coming-of-age story into a genuinely moving tale that mixes the real and surreal, the ordinary and the extraordinary with impressive fluency and flair.

“The Age of Miracles” is not without its flaws. There are moments when the spell the author has so assiduously created wobbles, and moments when a made-for-Hollywood slickness seeps into the story. Some minor plot developments feel as if they had been created simply for pacing, and Ms. Walker sometimes seems so determined to use Julia’s circumscribed life as a microcosm of the larger world that the reader has to be reminded that “the slowing” is supposedly a planet-altering phenomenon.
added by ozzer | editNYTimes, MICHIKO KAKUTANI (Jun 18, 2012)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Karen Thompson Walkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Card, Emily Janicemain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Here in the last minutes, the very end of the world,
someone's tightening a screw thinner than an eyelash,
someone with slim wrists is straightening flowers...

Another End of the World, James Richardson
Dedication
For my parents and for Casey
First words
We didn't notice right away.

We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin.
Quotations
Sometimes the saddest stories take the fewest words...
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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(from the publisher)
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, twelve-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow.  Amidst this altered environment, Julia also faces a new kind of transformation – growing up.  Coping with the normal disasters of everyday life (the loss of friends, struggles in her parents’ marriage, and the anguish of first love) she grapples to find her way on a changing world.
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Imagines the coming-of-age story of young Julia, whose world is thrown into upheaval when it is discovered that the Earth's rotation has suddenly begun to slow, posing a catastrophic threat to all life.

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