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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

NARRATOR: Emily Janice Card
PUBLISHER:  Random House Audio
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 9 hrs and 3 mins
GENRE: Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 9780307970701
With a voice as distinctive and original as that of The Lovely Bones, and for the fans of the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world. "It still amazes me how little we really knew... Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much."

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life - the fissures in her parents marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.


The Age of Miracles is told from the perspective of a girl named Julia, who reflects back on the time when she was 11 years old. She relates the details of her life and the events that took place back then, focusing primarily on a phenomenon known as "The Slowing," when the Earth began to rotate more slowly on a continuous basis. Minutes and hours continued to be added to each day, and it affected daily life on every level. Society became separated between the "real-timers" who woke and slept to the Earth's natural rhythms and who believed that their bodies would adjust just as the Earth had; and the "clock-timers" who still lived by the 24-hour clock and woke and slept no matter whether the sun or moon was shining. The "real-timers" became ostracized by the “clock-timers,” who felt threatened by them. The “real-timers” eventually established communities of like-minded folks, so there was a complete segregation of society. As the days stretched longer and longer, it also had an impact on the crops which could no longer be sustained because of the lengthy periods of darkness. People began to stock-pile and hoard canned food and other non-perishables in the event of a global famine. Some forms of wildlife begin to die off. The change in gravitational pull wreaked havoc on airplanes, the tides, and just about anything in motion. As people faced what they feared was the beginning of the end, divorce rates and suicides sky-rocketed. For the rest that remained, they battled to fight depression and the many other symptoms that plagued them as a result of the change in gravity.

Walker spins an eerily believable tale of what would happen if The Slowing ever did take place. Her style seems more literary than dystopian to me. Although there are many long narratives, Walker’s beautiful prose still held my interest. Here is just one example:

“And it seems to me now that the slowing triggered certain other changes too, less visible at first but deeper. It disrupted certain subtler trajectories: the tracks of friendships, for example, the paths toward and away from love. But who am I to say that the course of my childhood was not already set long before the slowing? Perhaps my adolescence was only an average adolescence, the stinging a quite unremarkable stinging. There is such a thing as coincidence: the alignment of two or more seemingly related events with no causal connection. Maybe everything that happened to me and to my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Narrator Emily Janice Card is new-to-me, and I thought that her voice was perfectly suited for young Julia. Her tone has an ethereal, dream-like quality, which I really enjoyed.

This is Walker’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from her! 



  1. Thanks for your review. You intrigued me, and I will listen to an excerpt to hear that narrator's voice. I enjoyed that book very much [print]. here is my review:

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your link, wordsandpeace!

  2. Another book onto the TBR pile. hehehe

  3. This sounds like an interesting premise and glad to hear that you enjoyed.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. It thought it was a pretty unique story. Thanks for stopping by, Brandi!

  4. Sounds pretty good! I already had it on my wishlist, so I'm really glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks for the review!

    1. I hope you'll enjoy the book as much as I did, Aleksandra!


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