Cannonball Read IV #71
It took me forever to find this book in real life. I will spare you the details, but needless to say I eventually found the only copy of The Age of Miracles, the first novel by Karen Thompson Walker, at Barnes and Noble and read it quickly. As soon as I turned the final page, I thought… well, I’ll get to that in a minute.
The Age of Miracles is the story of Julia, who is a young girl when “the slowing” starts. Suddenly, and without any reason given or able to be found by scientists, the world is turning more and more slowly each day. By the end of the book, the natural day (period of light) and natural night (period of dark) are weeks long. This is a book of what happens to one young girl as her world is thrown into chaos — literally.
Okay, so… when I shut the book after I finished it, the first thought I had was “I can’t tell if I love or hate this book.” First of all, I made the unfortunate mistake of reading on goodreads that this book had a voice as fresh as the voice in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Hi, my name is Krista and I am the world’s only member of the “I didn’t like The Lovely Bones” club (we are currently accepting new members). Maybe that tainted my thoughts as I read, but what I think made me feel so “meh” about the book was the fact that there is basically NO plot. Now, that isn’t alone a bad thing. A book that is character-driven with a meh plot can be good. For instance, I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I feel like that book is pretty plotless — but Francie and her family were really engaging. This book… I just don’t know.
I can’t even do a very good job of writing this review because that’s how ambivalent I feel about it. We find out, slowly, the effects of the slowing, and those parts were the most interesting for me. I wish we’d had more of that. It would have made it a bigger adventure story. The parts of the story that focused on Julia and Seth were great, too. Yet just when it gets good… he is gone. (Because he gets sick from gravity sickness, which is what they call the myriad of illnesses that spring up as the earth’s gravity changes as it slows down.) Now, this would have been such a great place to develop characters AND plot. I mean, first love? We have it. Interesting aftermath of the slowing? Also here. Together, these two things could be totally awesome and used to make an awesome story. Heck, these two things alone could be the basis of the novel and I would have known for sure that I liked it.
Despite my misgivings, I think I’d read a book by Thompson Walker again. I liked the writing itself in this book if not the actual plot (well… as I’ve pointed out: the lack of plot plot). She is a great descriptive writer and I did feel engaged because I wanted so badly to find out what happened (which was, sadly, nothing).