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Among Others by Jo Walton

Among Others (edition 2011)

by Jo Walton

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1,6011604,567 (3.96)2 / 376
Title:Among Others
Authors:Jo Walton
Info:Tor Books (2011), Edition: First Edition, Kindle Edition, 303 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 10
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  4. 32
    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. 00
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (sturlington)
  6. 00
    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.
  7. 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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English (159)  French (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 159 (next | show all)
I had forgotten what it was like to be a teenager, but Jo Walton seems to have recaptured it here in a story told through a girl's journal entries. Agh, I remember those journal entries now, not to mention the vague feelings of guilt over everything, the angst, oh, the pre-internet angst. I also felt that the magic in this book was just perfect, not benign but not totally evil either, powerful but deniable. I think I would have liked this book even if it didn't have a happy-ish ending, but it did, and I like that, too. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
Absolutely loved the first 80% of the book- a wonderful blending of genres, and really great character writing. Parts of it reminded me a bit of "little, big" which I read in 2013, but maybe just because of the subject matter. At the end, i found myself wishing that all the fairies etc had been in her head, and a way of dealing with other issues in her life. Also thought the fight with her mother at the end was a weird insert, which either should have been fleshed out more or left out altogether.
( )
  abbeyhar | Apr 2, 2015 |
(*terms-and-conditions-protected internet ate the first two paragraphs of my review. And then Word crashed and ate the paper I'd been working on all afternoon. This review, shorn of its head and thorax, can damn well stand. The gist of the missing part was that this is a quiet book about a strong and strange teen protagonist, an increasingly anachronistic thing in our age of "trending," and a love letter to books that doesn't try to do much in the way of plot, letting obvious lead-ins like the fact that half her family are witches lie largely fallow.)

It's the SF/fantasy reading list rather than any narrative drama that serves as the book's spine. Mori is a YA teen protagonist (though full of scorn for YA teen protagonists of the "my mom's getting married again and I have to spend the summer at his beachhouse with my new stepsiblings" kind, which makes me smile because I was at her age too) and this is a book about growing up as someone who lives most fully in books, and if she also sees fairies well so do some of those teen subculturalists mentioned upreview, and if her backstory is fucked well so is everyone's really. The titles, the recs, the intensely held and held-forth opinions on Tolkien (Mori names the fairies and their haunts after Middle-Earth people and places, constructing her world from shreds of faerie) and Ursula Le Guin and John Brunner and (a major, major touchstone for this book) Dying Inside and really everybody, give this little novel its life, and indeed erupt into real fictional magic at the end, in a cool way that I won't ruin here. Mori spends a lot of the novel agonizing about how much she might or might not have perturbed the natural order of things with the magic she did to draw a "karass" of like-minded nerds around her because she was lonely at her private school, but then at the end when she pulls her climactic trick or spell or whatever, she says "If you love books enough, they will love you back." And that made me part of her karass, and who's to say whether there's magic involved there or whether this stuff's "actually" all in her head and we are not getting a fantasy novel in the traditional sense so much as an immersion in the fantasies of a grieving young woman (this is not the kind of book that proclaims that as a big reveal, only subtly hints at the possibility, and at the irrelevance of the true case, here and there) or whether pure sympathy's a kind of magic as well. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Mar 16, 2015 |
A beautiful coming of age story, and a love letter to classic science fiction, this sure-handed novel captures the difficulties of teenage fitting-in as well as anything I've read in some time. ( )
  wanack | Mar 11, 2015 |
Mor's twin sister has recently died, and as we join the story, she has just been sent away to an English boarding school by her three spinster aunts. As the story unfolds, we get to find out more about the circumstances that took her from her home in South Wales and placed her in such unfamiliar surroundings.

Let me start by saying that I've never really read much science fiction or fantasy. I have nothing against them, but it did mean that a lot of Mor's references to sci-fi (and there are many of them) meant nothing to me. Having said that, I am a bookworm and I loved her boundless hunger for uncovering new treasures amongst the bookshelves.

I found Mor herself to be a fascinating character. She walks a fine line between a fantastical worldview and sheer delusion, and I wondered if she would follow her mother into having mental health problems. I found myself questioning her recollection and interpretation of events, which meant I couldn't put the book down. She is a split character in many ways - a Welsh girl living in England, the surviving twin who goes on growing up whilst her sister remains forever 14, and trying to be many things to many people - a daughter, a Nice Niece, friend, girlfriend, etc...

The ending was a bit disappointing; it felt like a bit of an afterthought after what was a very engaging build-up. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone, especially if they enjoy reading sci-fi. ( )
  pokarekareana | Mar 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 159 (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.
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 Passer_Invenit | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)
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.

» 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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—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
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.
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.
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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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