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Among Others by Jo Walton
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Among Others (edition 2012)

by Jo Walton

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,357None5,648 (4)2 / 313
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

2011 (28) 2012 (19) boarding school (42) books (20) books about books (28) coming of age (60) ebook (39) England (24) faerie (23) fairies (56) fantasy (307) fiction (157) Kindle (31) magic (64) novel (27) read (16) read in 2011 (14) read in 2012 (24) read in 2013 (14) reading (16) science fiction (105) sf (35) sff (29) speculative fiction (19) to-read (102) twins (25) urban fantasy (13) Wales (62) YA (22) young adult (39)
  1. 20
    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. 31
    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.
  3. 10
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  4. 00
    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.
  5. 00
    The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (Herenya)
    Herenya: Both stories have a heroine dealing with grief and the sometimes-loneliness of being 15.
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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
wonderful book.. Captures the essence of SF/Fantasy books influence on readers. Also the reason I'm on LibraryThing..I too created a Reading list of Mori's books, but only had 109.. So the list here is better. I own 76 of the titles.. Read perhaps five or six more & an now filling in the blanks...(ie read Delany,but missed Triton in my youth). So will hope to be as well read as she by 2015 ( )
  frankhallock | Mar 1, 2014 |
I can't rate among others because it has two distinct interpretations. On the face of it, I'd give the book a 1 or 2/5, because it's a painfully angsty self-sabotaging teenage self-insert novel OR a 5/5 on my alternate minority reading:

Among Others is the a tragic story of a brain-damaged and as a result, delusional girl told through the eyes of the girl herself. Her injury, from a car crash that killed her sister, has made her believe that all the things she believed in as a small child, fairies and magic, are true. The protagonist, as an unreliable narrator, gives the reader an inside perspective into what it is to develop delusions, megalomania and a paranoid persecution complex.

Difficult to read at times, the author gives us a main line into what it is to be insane; the protagonist begins to interpret positive events as the results of her powerful 'magic' rituals that she performs (or imagines she performed, after the fact? - given the journal format this is entirely possible; often it is mentioned that entries were not written until days later), and her paranoia interprets setbacks and bad dreams as evil magic sent by her mother, who she perceives to be a witch and begins to believe that even her aunts, who are putting her through an expensive private school, are witches also.

Perhaps she would have grown out of these childish fantasies had she accepted or been honest about her need for medical and psychological help, but her entrenchment in science fiction and fantasy literature has led her to be secretive about what she believes, and constant exposure to fantastic worlds quickly worsens her damaged mind.

Among Others is a brutal, realist book that is difficult to read in its honesty conveying the tragic spiral down into madness of an innocent teenage girl, and a warning about the danger that sci-fi and fantasy books pose to an already unstable mind. ( )
  Achromatic | Feb 16, 2014 |
This one was very... strange. I think it would be a great choice for an adult book club, especially for those that enjoy sci fi, as the main character reads a lot of it and talks about it frequently. There's a lot to chew on here, and I'm not sure how much I actually enjoyed it to be honest, but I'm glad I stuck it out. The audio was narrated by Katherine Kellgren, but I didn't enjoy this one as much as her other narrations. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
Brilliant, compelling. The teenage protagonist is a compulsive reader, which I loved reading about, (even if she's obsessed with SF over fantasy.) I subtracted one star for the rushed ending, which I felt came out of nowhere. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
Oh, what a lovely, lovely book. I grew to love it in the way you meet and fall in love with people -- a little bit at a time. Since the story is told through the main character's journal, it's like hearing an intimate monolog and the comparison to falling in love is especially apt.

Mori is straightforward and a bit lost and feels out of place, like an alien in the world. I remember how that felt as a teenager, how even my own body felt strange, and I remember wanting to escape into books the way she does. She talks about books, SF and Fantasy, with great passion throughout and it makes me want to create a list if ever book she mentions so I can read them all.

This novel also has fairies and magic and a mother who is a wicked witch, all presented as mundane and ordinary (well, except maybe for the mom). Both the fairies and the magic are wonderful. The fairies are slight and strange, ugly and beautiful, neither good nor beautiful. They just are and are nearly incomprehensible to talk to. The magic is a magic if "plausible deniability" with consequences far flung and hard to know. The mother is subtle and frightening threat. This would be a book about growing up and accepting life and yourself without these thing, and yet presented here, the fairies and magic are just as plausible as horrible food at boarding school and discovering wonders among the bookshelves at the local library.

The writing is wonderful, falling into the wandering tone of journal writing while also having smooth and easy flow. The ending line was just about perfect, which made made at once laugh aloud and almost cry. If this is any indication, I'm going to have to track down the rest of Walton's books. ( )
2 vote andreablythe | Jan 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (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.

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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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