Review: The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker
Genre: Apocalyptic, Fiction
Published: Random House, 2012 My Rating: 3/5 stars
“How much sweeter life would be if it all happened in reverse, if, after decades of disappointments, you finally arrived at an age when you had conceded nothing, when everything was possible.”
The Age of Miracles was a case of a great concept, with a disappointing execution, a faith that seems to befall many a dystopian or apocalyptic novel recently. It follows your typical format of essentially telling two stories; a largescale one about the world altering event that is taking place, and a smallscale one about the personal affairs of our protagonist. In this case, this is Julia, who we follow from age 11 to 22 throughout the novel. She struggles with the tense relationship between her parents, and her own developing relationship with a boy, al whilst life on earth is gradually changing for good due to a process called “the slowing”.
The Slowing is a fascinating concept and by far the most interesting part of the novel to me. The earth’s rotation speed is gradually slowing down, resulting in each day being a little longer than the one before and essentially upsetting the speed and rhythm of living as a whole. In addition, our slower rotation leave us vulnerable to a higher net effect of gravity, which literally weighs people down and slows them further as a result. I really liked the concept, beginning to end, and just would have loved for it to be a bigger part of the story. Unfortunately I felt like the connection of Julia’s story and the Slowing was missing a little; one didn’t add to the other. Which was a shame, as with a coming-of-age concept combined with a time-based apocalypse like this, there was so much potential for that.
Me and many others experience our own little time-apocalypses in real life as we grow older. Time seemingly only speeds up for us. It rushes us into adulthood, beyond adulthood, and before we know it we realize: we might already be a quarter, halfway through… maybe even already near the end. I was hoping The Slowing maybe would contrast that in Julia’s life, but instead The Slowing seems a storyline in itself, that at times even feels forced into Julia’s storyline, instead of organically blending into it.
Julia’s story in itself was a little “vanilla” to me; nothing wrong with it, but nothing profound or revolutionary either. In fact, the entire novel left me with that feeling and for something with such a strong concept, I can’t help but feel disappointment.
I’d recommend this novel to fans of Tommy Wallach’s We All Looked Up, as it reminded me a lot of that. Also, if you are in the mood for a family-friendly apocalyptic Hollywood movie in bookform (if that makes any sense): this might be the book for you.
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