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Among Others by Jo Walton
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Among Others (edition 2011)

by Jo Walton

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1,8351763,798 (3.97)2 / 395
Member:pharrm
Title:Among Others
Authors:Jo Walton
Info:Tor Books (2011), Edition: First Edition, Kindle Edition, 303 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

Among Others by Jo Walton

  1. 60
    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. 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.
  3. 20
    Little, Big by John Crowley (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Similar style and approach to the world of faerie
  4. 10
    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.
  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. 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.
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English (176)  French (1)  All languages (177)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Although I read until the end to find out what happens (spoiler: not much really), I was very disappointed with this book. The teenage Welsh boarding school narrator is infuriatingly ambiguous, diffident, and her “voice” becomes really monotonous. It is more of a love letter to 70s science fiction and the joys of the inter-library loan system. I thrilled at the mention of books I had also read and loved and breathed as a young girl…. but found myself wishing I knew more about *this* young girl. ( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
I should have followed my gut (and the result of the 80-page test) on this one. Absolutely boring. Why this got nominated for a Hugo award is beyond me, and leads me to doubt the credibility of the Hugos all together. Well written but so what? It's literary -- and BORING. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood. Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
  BurnFundLib | Mar 20, 2016 |
One of Amy Poehler's rules for improvisation is "Don't start a scene where two people are talking about jumping out of a plane. Start the scene having already jumped."

Morwenna Phelps has already jumped. Her mother tried to take over the world, but she and her twin sister, Morgana prevented her. And it's only now, in the midst of the aftermath of their magical quest and all that they sacrificed to save the world, that the book begins. Mor has always been an imaginative, independent child; her childhood spent running around the wild areas of Wales and talking to fairies only exacerbated this. But now she can't run, she's not in Wales, and she's surrounded by the walls of a strict English boarding school. And somehow, Mor has to go on.

Mor is an incredible character, analytical almost to a fault, introspective, blindingly intelligent, not particularly socialized. Her story is one of grief, of not being understood and not fitting in, and not particularly wanting to fit in. It is the story of someone who loves and trusts stories so much more than she's able to love and trust most of the people in her life. It is a very specific tale about growing up in 1970s as a smart, bookish girl who can see fairies and has a mother who wants to destroy and a father who is a stranger, but it is also a much more general tale. More than any other book I've read, this is the story of growing up as a geek and as a girl. Details have changed, but a surprising number remain instantly recognizable, even to someone who grew up decades later in a distant country.

I loved this book. And to me, it is the perfect response to so much of the fantasy that I read as a child, wherein our world was mundane and colorless and needed to be escaped. Because in this story, stories are fabulous and fairies are real--and yet still, this physical, earthy world we live in, filled with unfair rules and oppression and exhaust fumes, is worth living in. ( )
1 vote wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Every time I read a book by Jo Walton, I am in awe all over again. Half way through this one, I knew I was going to have to reread it someday -- after I make a list of all the science fiction and fantasy books that it references and read those that I've missed out on. This autobiographically influenced fantasy novel is as intimate an experience between reader and author as I have ever encountered. Reading it is like inhabiting Walton's real life and your own at the same time, even when the narrative is talking about fairies and magic and other worlds. Nothing here is overblown or overwrought and yet each detail feels both real and magical at once. This is the story of a young woman who has lost her twin, and all the family she knew. It is also a story of that young woman rebuilding herself, in the face of opposition that is sometimes real and sometimes magical and sometimes both or maybe neither. It is still also a love letter to the great science fiction and fantasy classics of the twentieth century; the narrative is peppered with references to the works of Zelazny, Delany, Bradbury, LeGuin, and dozens of others as our heroine uses her enthusiasm for her favorite books to connect with those who seem so different from herself. And don't we all? This book will resonate deeply with anyone who has every been that lone book nerd searching for her people. Seriously, read it. ( )
1 vote beserene | Feb 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (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 Passer_Invenit | editLocus, Gary Wolfe (Jan 24, 2011)
 

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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.
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(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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