Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles (edition 2012)

by Karen Thompson Walker

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0152483,329 (3.68)131
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An ordinary coming of age story set in extraordinary circumstances, this debut novel is beautifully written and true to the perspective of it's 11-year old narrator, Julia. All of the uncertainty, resentment and angst of adolescence are captured while the details of a worldwide catastrophe throw the banality of everyday life into stark relief. ( )
  katiekrug | Jun 9, 2012 |
English (251)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (257)
Showing 1-25 of 251 (next | show all)
It was difficult to get into this book, but once I did and accepted what I saw, I was repaid. It was somewhat frustrating to accept that the narrator had no answers for what was happening around her. It turned out to be a somewhat maudlin ending. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Spellbinding, haunting, The Age of Miracles is a beautiful novel of catastrophe and survival, growth and change, the story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in an extraordinary time. On an ordinary Saturday, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer, gravity is affected, the birds, the tides, human behavior and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world of danger and loss, Julia faces surprising developments in herself, and her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by Hannah and other friends, the vulnerability of first love, a sense of isolation, and a rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking story of people finding ways to go on, in an ever-evolving world. ( )
  camtb | Jun 27, 2015 |
It is a regular Saturday morning when Julia, her family and the rest of the world wake up to the news that the rotation of the Earth is slowing. Already dealing with everything life throws at you when you are eleven years old, the world suddenly becomes a different place. Days get longer, birds fall out of the sky and then there is the sickness. People start to leave their everyday lives, head out on the run – but there is nowhere to go.

I read this in a day. I was just entranced by Julia and Seth and the very way that this story was told. I love that it wasn’t typical YA heroes – instead our two protagonists are only eleven years old, facing a disaster of the most epic scale while dealing with the disasters of the everyday as well. Their characters and their friendship were beautifully portrayed in the face of the impending possible end of the world.

The writing was in this amazing, reflective voice from Julia’s perspective that had the wisdom of her elder self as well as the innocence of her younger self. I never felt her voice was unrealistic – rather it felt kind of magical, as if I was floating on it throughout the novel. The imagery crafted by Walker’s storytelling is vivid and creates the perfect atmosphere, dripping with tension. Although a slow moving story, I found I couldn’t put it down and had to finish it the day I started it, and then I had to talk about it with my non-reading friends. It lead to interesting end of the world discussions and the inevitable question: what would you do?

The Age of Miracles is full of rich characters, from Julia’s parents to her friends and neighbours, and we see how the changing world affects them all through her eyes, as well as experiencing those awkward, challenging and sometimes difficult moments of adolescence. It is a classic coming of age novel set in an uncertain time, which makes growing up just that bit harder but of course, still inevitable. I enjoyed every moment even when it made me sad, depressed or angry. I loved it for the way it remained with me long after I had finished and moved on to the next book on my TBR. I was haunted by it and I feel like I still am. Unforgettable is not a word I throw around lightly but it applies here. And I think part of what makes it that way is how easily the unexplainable could wipe away or completely change or challenge the existence we enjoy as we know it, as it has in this book. The reactions of the characters and the slow burning uncertainty of the end of the world is captured so brilliantly and realistically that it rings true to me. It makes me think of that T.S. Eliot poem ‘The Hollow Men’:

This is the way the world ends/not with a bang but with a whimper.
( )
  crashmyparty | Jun 20, 2015 |
I was reluctant to read this book because I thought it was going to be a bit sci fi with the subject matter. It was not. The earth is slowing down and days are becoming longer and longer. But the novel is so much more. It is about a twelve-year-old girl coming-of-age during this time. I would have liked to see the children have a more fearful reaction to the slowing as I think most children would. But I liked Julia's character and how the author dealt with the issues of friendship, first love, parental issues and so forth, as well as dealing with the slowing of time. I enjoyed the author's writing style as well. People would most definitely have to go on with their lives is such an event were to occur and this story shows that happening. I just wish a bit more panic would have been written into the book, as I think that would be present in this situation. Overall, a good, different kind of read. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Jun 3, 2015 |
I started it and couldn't put it down. ( )
  DavidCady | May 18, 2015 |
Hmmm... This book isn't terribly written. The author's voice is strong and the writing is lyrical. The plot and characterization is where it falls flat. The characters were all one-note stereotypes. Julia, the main character is so bland and unaffected it boggles the mind. Her only defining feature is her obsession with a neighbor boy that is never explained. Yet, when this boyfriend disappears from her life, she has about the same reaction as when the earth starts to die: namely, none whatsoever. Also, I felt the persecution of the "real-timers" was nonsensical and contrived. Besides which, nothing came of it. Nothing came of much of anything in this book. Characters and plot lines peter out all the time. This novel is nothing but loose ends. Overall, disappointing. ( )
  Juva | Apr 5, 2015 |
Utterly fascinating topic, though I truly hope the concept of the Earth's rotation lengthening remains science fiction rather than reality; I don't want to imagine living through the earth slowing it rotation and the reciprocal effects on animals, farming and human baseness. Very mildly disappointing outcome as the story doesn't have closure. I think this is fitting -- a joyful, roses and sunshine ending wouldn't be plausible. This is true young adult and other than the seriousness of Earth's future in science fiction terms, this is "safe" for preteens and teens. The three stars rating is only because I think that the author could have done more to develop the characters and set the scenes with more details. I wanted more. She made me hungry for more information. This may be selfish as she wrote primarily for a YA audience, keeping the scientific and psychological details to their teen mindset and not geer this toward my adult POV. ( )
  olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
I read this book twice. The first time was several years ago when it first came out and I flew through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Recently I read it again and I was somewhat disappointed by it. There were too many things that brought me up short. The least of it was the lack of panic among the middle schoolers, and the almost non-existent role that the internet played when people were trying to figure out what was going on. I assume that Walker was trying to show how people adapt and carry on even in things fall apart, but the things that people in her story had trouble with seemed to be the least of their worries. Whole segments of society currently live with their days and nights mixed up, and there are places in which days and nights go on for months. However, it was a terrific book club selection and it provoked a lively discussion. ( )
  eapalmer | Feb 14, 2015 |
The earth begins to slow. While the story has gaps in its believability ably described by other reviewers, it shines through the voice of the key character, a pre-teen girl. While the setting is the backdrop and the vehicle of the story, her coming-of-age made the story for me. ( )
  wareagle78 | Jan 5, 2015 |
meh. Interesting concept. ( )
  leahsophia | Dec 30, 2014 |
This is a dystopian novel that hits eerily close to home. She has taken our reality and thrown one wrench into the works and shows how it would not only effect our society but something as base as growing up.

The story isn't one that will have you gasping with its twists and turns, but I know once I put it down I was left with many questions to ponder and with some new outlooks on human nature. A thoroughly enjoyable read. ( )
  plaeski | Dec 16, 2014 |
Julia is an ordinary middle school girl living an ordinary life, until the day when everybody's definition of "ordinary" changes: a 25-hour day. It turns out the Earth's rotation is mysteriously slowing, and each day from then on is longer than the last. Which is not good news for humanity, although Julia and her family carry on as best they can.

Let me start by saying, this is a pretty good book. Honestly. It's very well-written (especially for a YA novel, which I think is how it was marketed), it captures the feel of those awkward middle school years well, the characters are believable, and it hits some nice, poignant emotional notes. And yet... Well, I think I was precisely the wrong reader for this one.

My biggest problem was that I kept getting hung up on the science (or the lack thereof). I told myself I wasn't going to, that I could just accept the premise for what it was, but I simply could not help it. The more details Walker threw in about what was happening, the more I felt compelled to question it all. So I spent a lot of the novel with this voice in the back of my head that went something like, "OK, if something magically increased the gravitational constant, that could account for most of this, including increased gravity and the slowing of the Earth's rotation due to tidal effects. Hey, maybe Q from Star Trek did it; he mentioned being able to once. But... But surely to account for a slowing this dramatic, it would have to be an increase big enough that it would cause way more havoc than is being described here. Hmm, I could dig out my old physics textbook and try to calculate it... No! No, my physics is too rusty, and I do not have the time to waste on that! Anyway, I'm sure it would turn out to be entirely inaccurate. But... But maybe..." And then the whole thing would repeat again. Eventually that voice faded a bit, but it was hard to concentrate on much else while it was nattering on.

And even aside from the science, I had some plausibility problems, including the fact that for ages I was trying to figure out what year this was, when every middle school kid has a cell phone but the internet doesn't exist. Eventually I decided it must be some kind of alternate universe. And then, 150 pages in, the narrator casually mentions something about blogs. So everybody was getting all their information from the newspaper and CNN and nobody ever found out anything about anything until they saw it on TV or heard if from a neighbor because...?

In fact, this lack-of-characters-being-aware-of-things-quickly-enough issue led to the book managing to inadvertently put me off with the very first sentence. The sentence is "we didn't notice right away," which by itself is a great first sentence. But what it's talking about is people not noticing that the day had increased by 56 minutes. And... OK. I work at an astronomical observatory. Every day, Thanksgiving and Christmas not excluded, we run a project for the US Naval Observatory designed to carefully measure the difference between rotation-of-the-Earth time and atomic clock time. They use our data to calculate this value down to, I believe, a hundred-thousandth of a second. And we pay attention to the results because if we don't, all our other observations will be a little bit off. The point is, we would notice. Long before the day slowed down by 56 minutes! And so would every amateur astronomer with a backyard telescope, for that matter. I think I almost felt personally insulted by this. Later, I decided this may have been unfair, as she seems to maybe be implying the 56-minute slowdown happened essentially overnight, rather than gradually, as I'd first assumed. Which, of course just takes us right back to the "I'm nearly certain that ought to have had even more dire consequences than it has in the book" problem.

And then there's the scene where the government announces -- reasonably enough, I thought, given how rapidly the days are lengthening -- that things are going to stay on 24-hour clock time, regardless of day or night. The protagonist is aghast. How can they possibly be expected to adapt to such a schedule?! Now, I work rotating shifts, and have for a very long time. I know all too well how badly being out of sync with the sun can screw with you, and probably I, of all people, should be sympathetic. But instead, all I could think at that moment was, "Welcome to my world, bitches! Now you'll see what it's like!" And then I started speculating about how maybe the slowing was actually the doing of some supervillain shiftworker who wanted to force the rest of the world to understand. Which, needless to say was not the effect the author was going for.

Indeed, none of that is remotely what this book is about. It's about a girl and her family living through difficult times. It's about the experience of early adolescence, and the fragility of everything, and a bit about humanity's relationship to time and to nature. And it doesn't do a bad job of being about those things, in a somewhat lightweight kind of way. I tried to appreciate it on that level, and I succeeded to a certain extent, but it was still hard for me to get past my various issues.

So. Basically, I think I would not recommend this book to people with physics degrees, people who have anything at all to do with astronomy, people who read a lot of hard SF and expect good scientific explanations for things, people who work night shifts and have some degree of resentment towards those who don't, or people whose suspension of disbelief snaps immediately when nobody in a modern-day story seems to have Facebook. For everybody else, if it sounds like your sort of thing, go for it! ( )
5 vote bragan | Nov 30, 2014 |
This novel seemed to read as slowly as the slowing of the Earth in the story. It also bothered me that, although it's supposed to begin in the present time or near future, many things seem already dated-- like cell phones in which you have to punch in the numbers again and again, and middle school kids who don't know about texting. ( )
  DonnaCallea | Nov 29, 2014 |
this book is so enthralling, i found myself looking around school after reading it, wondering why people weren't freaking out about the slowing, until I realised that I did not actually live in Julia's dystopian universe. ( )
  ellsie98 | Nov 16, 2014 |
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is about a world where the days get longer on Earth. The effects of "the slowing" are seen through the eyes of 11 year old Julia. Thompson's writing style is succinct and elegant, however the story leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled. While social constructs break down and everyday life is being reconstructed, Thompson leaves the reader asking for more. We see society being reshaped, but the narrative lacks detail. Interesting characters and plots are introduced, but not developed. The premise of the novel is quite enthralling - a world potentially nearing the end of its life. Animals are dying off in groves, the food supply is dwindling, and humans are fighting the negative effects of the slowing on their bodies. However, these occurrences are merely peripheral. It feels as if the main story is about how Julia is trying to make it through school, crushes, and puberty and it just so happens that the world is also falling apart. Thompson story is unique and is an easy read, however the heavy subject matter lacks depth. 3/5. ( )
  saudia89 | Nov 2, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Unlike other YA dystopian books I've read, Karen Thompson Walker's "The Age of Miracles" is not set in a post-known world. Rather, she carries her readers through the unknown, unknowable breakdown of the known world into a harsh new reality. Typical coming-of-age questions are cast against bigger moral, cultural, and ethical questions, all of which are framed by the unraveling of time. To begin with what is essentially our world before moving into a frightening future world affords readers the opportunity to ask "what if" questions of themselves that other dystopian novels sometimes lack. Recommended. ( )
  grkmwk | Sep 12, 2014 |
An enjoyable enough read, but not nearly as good as it should have been. There was so much potential here, and at the end it was an absolutely typical YA coming of age story that just happened to be set at the end of the world. In fact (and this is probably not far of the mark for a teenager) the protagonist is much more concerned with her loneliness and then her boyfriend than she is with the fact that everything and everyone is going to die. Initially I was intrigued by the angle that puberty is its own little apocalypse, and the two cataclysmic events - time slowing and middle school - paralleled each other. Then the author just dropped that and went to the blah blah blah bad things happen, love is magical and affirming that then lost, classmates are mean, storyline that you can find in Eleanor & Park, The Fault in our Stars, (both better written) and a million other YA books. What a shame. If the author had done even the slightest bit of work to learn something about the science of what would happen if the Earth's rotation was slowed and then had the people live through that rather than telling us that crops die when there are 48 hour nights and the electric grid can't handle the needs of a planet dependent on sunlamps to grow all food and otherwise live (duh!) this would have been an exponentially better book. I toyed with making this a 2 star, but this author writes pretty prose and I enjoyed reading it so a low 3 seems fair. ( )
  Narshkite | Aug 19, 2014 |
This was something that I wasn't sure I would like, but it really held my interest from beginning to end. It's fascinating to think about what would happen if the earth actually stopped doing what we expect/need it to. More than the characters' individual stories, I was interested in the ways that the governments and scientists tried to cope with what was happening,the way that some people refused to accept that there are things beyond human control. It was a good one, I would recommend it. ( )
  Hanneri | Aug 15, 2014 |
wow. This is a very thought provoking and well written book. I must admit, I kept looking at the clock and at the daylight. I felt as if I was there. Honestly, this book freaks me out a bit. I find it very disturbing as there isn't really any hope left, or very little. Life seems to be going on, but for how long. It makes me wonder how we would face such a situation. I think it would be much like in the book,although probably more violence than we see. Overall, this book has left me rather disturbed. ( )
  morandia | Aug 1, 2014 |
A lovely read that starts with the idea that the rotation of the earth is slowing down and then tells the reader what happens to the family of an 11-year-old girl from the period of the 'slowing'. This gives a human scale to a major disaster and we see the whole thing from her point of view. This, therefore, is not a novel full of science it is about emotions and teenage concerns. Julia, the 11-year-old, is a loner and is an observant teenager and she tells how the world changes, both the world outside her home and within her family, as the world slows further and further down. Well put together and an interesting novel. ( )
  Tifi | Jun 29, 2014 |
Plot: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Style: 4 1/2 stars
Pace: 4 stars

So ephemeral, and it pops like a soap bubble afterwards, but while reading it, I really enjoyed it. ( )
  Jami_Leigh | Jun 22, 2014 |
As speculative pre-apocalyptic fiction, The Age of Miracles was reasonably good and sure to be memorable, although lacking a certain amount of social realism. As a story about actual character, centering around a girl becoming a young woman, it fell flat.

The Age of Miracles centers around "the slowing" which hits earth at what appears to be the present time and slows down the rotation of the earth, which increasingly lengthens both the day and the night with implications for everything from animal migrations to the ability to raise crops to baseball (affected by the altered gravity) to the magnetic field that protects the Earth from solar radiation. These consequences mount of the course of the book, wreaking increasing havoc on the environment and human society. (The lack of social realism is that no matter how much everything disintegrates, people can go the store and buy any manner of things, cell phones continue to work, and everything seems more functional than you think it would actually be.)

In this world, the most interesting divide is between the people who adhere to the government's request and stay on clock time, following the normal 24 hour patterns regardless of whether it is light or dark, and the more free spirited rebels living on "real time" staying up when it is light (a period that stretches as long as 24 hours and longer) and sleeping when it is dark (the mirror image of length). The real timers reject society, move to communes, and believe that by enjoying longer days they are slowing the process of aging.

Against this unique and interesting backdrop, the story that unfolds is rather pedestrian, could never stand on its own, and probably was not marketed as "young adult" because it was not interesting enough to hold the attention of young adults. The story is narrated in the first person by Julia, a 10 year old who by the end is 12 years old, and shows her falling out with various friends, discovery of new friends--in particular a boyfriend named Seth--as she watches her father have an affair with her piano teacher. None of this feels particularly perceptive or interesting or tells you very much about any of the characters other than Julia. And Julia is moderately interesting, but also goes through all the normal clich̩s of a coming of age story.

As a relatively fast read it might still be worthwhile. But it does not come close to some of the really great debut novels in recent years, with Swamplandia! being an obvious comparison. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
the writing wasn't incredible, but the story/concept was enough to keep me wanting to read. ( )
  outlandishlit | Jun 9, 2014 |
The Age of Miracles was without a doubt a very unique work of fiction. Something has happened that has caused a "slowing" of the earth and the length of the days begins to get longer. This would almost put it into a genre that I generally don't have much use for. The end of the world type of story. However, this one is very different mostly because of the way it is told. For its told through the voice of Julia, who is about to turn 12.

Julia's voice gives it a very different tone than would be expected from such a novel. For its almost a calm narration of how a would would react to a change in everything they know. As the slowing continues, there emerge all that we would expect from a reality of such a situation. The religious fanatics preaching the end of times the doomsayers, the deniers. Eventually, you get a split in society with the clockers (those that choose to run on the old 24 hour clock regardless of the ever increasing length of days and nights) and the real timers who live by the sun's time.

Julia goes through life doing her normal daily schedule and commenting on the people that come in and out of her life. How people change, things change, the sickness that affects many including her mother. And through it all, she still speaks with the dreams and wishes and fears of most any girl her age.

Its a beautifully told tale. Though I do have to say that the one thing that didn't fit well was that Julia's voice did not come across to me as that of a 12 year old. I would have put her age by her voice as that of a teenager. But, that if that is the worst I can say of a person's writing, then she did quite the job. And it seems the other reviews on her book seem to echo my sentiments as well. Karen Thompson Walker is most definitely a voice worth watching for in the future.

www.sephipiderwitch.com ( )
  sephibitchwitch | Jun 5, 2014 |
Haunting and beautifully written. Definitely more of a "makes you think" story than a "feel good" story. ( )
  AlexTully | Jun 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-25 of 251 (next | show all)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
933 wanted
8 pay6 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.68)
1 11
1.5 3
2 53
2.5 25
3 197
3.5 83
4 306
4.5 43
5 128


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 98,520,760 books! | Top bar: Always visible