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Among Others by Jo Walton
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Among Others (edition 2012)

by Jo Walton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,5361544,781 (3.96)2 / 353
Member:vanderschloot
Title:Among Others
Authors:Jo Walton
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Science Fiction, School, Meta, British

Work details

Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. 30
    The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford (anglemark)
    anglemark: Both books are about how reading shaped a child, although they are not both viewing it exactly the same way.
  2. 30
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (norabelle414)
    norabelle414: A young, bookish kid in 1970s England gets tangled up in magical and scary events larger than they are.
  3. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  4. 42
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (Jannes)
    Jannes: Both are fantasy or fantasy-sih books about fantasy readers and how the stories you read hape you and affect your sense of the world.
  5. 10
    The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (Herenya)
    Herenya: Both stories have a heroine dealing with grief and the sometimes-loneliness of being 15.
  6. 01
    Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Both works have a hint of Faerie, without being clear whether it's real or not. Also bad parents and their struggling offspring.
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English (153)  French (1)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
Among Others was one of those rare book where I couldn't decide on a rating.

It's like that dish of lentils I ate years ago at a small Indian restaurant. I could not even start to categorize the taste--Lentils cooked with curry and butter and decorated with lemongrass. Now, years later, I'd like to try it again and I suspect that I'd like it.

I'm going to read it again...
  hnau | Nov 28, 2014 |
There's magic in it, but the greatest magic comes from the books-within-the-book as the author shows us how her heroins changes and grows through the books she is reading, many of which were old friends to me too. ( )
  lucypick | Sep 23, 2014 |
Well written, good characters but overall disappointing. Weak narrative and ending, and not really SF or fantasy at all.

Like some other reviewers I don't believe the magic in the story was intended to be real, but more a rationalisation of the experiences of the narrator. ( )
  rlangston | Sep 16, 2014 |
Lovely and dangerous because now I want to find some of the books Mori enjoyed so much. ( )
  catalogermom | Aug 18, 2014 |
The thing is, Mori’s mum is a witch and Mori and her twin sister, with some help from the fairies, stopped her evil scheme for taking over the world, at the cost of her sister’s life. So now staying at mum’s is not really a good idea anymore. It’s goodbye to the Welsh mountains, industrial ruins and magic. Instead she is shipped off to a boarding school, paid for by her dad who she hasn’t seen since she was a baby.

The boarding school is a posh hellhole of course, and now Mori has to try and deal with both social stigma, befriending new strange fairies, snobby aunts, puberty, finidng enough books to read and her mum’s attempts on her life in the dark hours. This book is Mori’s diary.

This is a charming read indeed, full of discussions about science fiction (yep, Mori is more than a little geeky), teenage angst and descriptions of magic so incomprehensible and subtle it can always be denied (you throw a comb into a bog and three months later find out that the change you wished for was already ten years in the making). As so often when magic is mixed with teenage life, I find myself more drawn to the mundane side of things, and Mori is very interesting to follow. I can’t quite shake the feeling this book isn’t all it could be, but it’s been quite a while since I read a more *charming* novel. ( )
1 vote GingerbreadMan | Aug 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
As [Mori] tries to come to terms with her sister’s death through both books and fairy magic, the novel assumes true emotional resonance.
 
There are really two points where the success of the novel as what it is make it fail to connect with me. The first has to do with the books. It's written in the form of a diary, and the form and voice are spot-on. But part of getting the diary form right is that it doesn't provide much in the way of information about the many books that Mori reads in the course of the novel-- you wouldn't expect a teenager with a lot on her mind to do a detailed plot summary of everything she read, after all.

This is no big deal as long as you recognize the references to authors and titles. But if you don't-- and there are a lot of books mentioned that I know about but either haven't read or do not recall fondly-- a lot of significance is lost. The titles sort of flash by as blank spots in the narrative, a kind of "This Cultural Reference Intentionally Left Blank" effect that ends up being a little off-putting.
 
This isn't a traditional fantasy, by any means. But it's a smart, heartfelt novel, with a strong, likable narrator, and many touchstones in terms of other books that will resonate for us, depending on how we felt/feel about those books.

It has also jumped right into my short list of favorite books ever, and it's one that I plan to reread more than once.
 
But, just as the magic, it's a peculiar, unique book. I've read most of Walton's fiction. I like this best, but in some ways it's the least structurally certain of her works; I think the magic that's so subtle it's deniable at the start of the book fails to maintain that quirky quality at its end—and I understand why, but still found it jarring.

Regardless, there's a deep beauty to this book that feels so entirely real I'm grateful for its existence, for the fact that I could read it, and for the way it now graces my own internal library.
 
Among Others is many things – a fully realized boarding-school tale, a literary memoir, a touching yet unsentimental portrait of a troubled family – but there’s something particularly appealing about a fantasy which not only celebrates the joy of reading, but in which the heroine must face the forces of doom not in order to return yet another ring to some mountain, but to plan a trip to the 1980 Glasgow Eastercon. That’s the sort of book you can love.
added by bluejo | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jo Waltonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen Hayden, PatrickEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vojnar, KamilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Er'perrhene.

—Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at what younger age?

Any time between 10 and 25:

It's going to improve. Honest. There really are people out there that you will like and who will like you.

—Farah Mendelsohn, LiveJournal, 23rd May 2008
Dedication
This is for all the libraries in the world, and all the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.
First words
The Phurnacite factory in Abercwmboi killed all the trees for two miles around. We'd measured it on the mileometer.
Quotations
It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.
[On Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd]: He makes things happen neatly, and sometimes they're horrible things, but they're always very pat. I hate that. He could have learned a lot from Silverberg and Delany.
She was looking at a record called 'Anarchy in the U.K.' by a group called the Sex Pistols. It was a very ugly cover, but I am quite interested in anarchism because of 'The Dispossessed'.
Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilization.
Libraries really are wonderful. They're better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Startling, unusual, and irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and science fiction, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. When her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled — and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to a father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England — a place all but devoid of true magic. There, she is tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off...

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonatham Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is a stunning new novel by an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers such as Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. LeGuin.

See http://papersky.livejournal.com/37282... for the moment of the book's genesis.
Haiku summary
The battle's over
Books keep you sane living in
Ruins with fairies.

No descriptions found.

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Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closests companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled -- and her twin sister dead.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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