Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gentle Dystopians? Not For Bloodthirsty Me.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Remember about a month ago when I said this book was the gentlest dystopian I'd ever read?  Well, I might have lied.  The Age of Miracles, a debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker, is also a quiet, mostly anticlimactic story about the end of the world.  It's dystopian, but (mostly) without all the violent intensity of most books in the genre.  It's a slow, ethereal kind of story, one that's deep, ponderous and, well, kind of boring.  After reading two books like this, I'm finding that I need my dystopians to be taut and suspenseful.  Otherwise, they just don't work very well for me.

At any rate, the story goes a little something like this:  Julia, an 11-year-old California girl, wakes up one morning to find that the earth's rotation is slowing down.  While the phenomenon seems to spell certain doom for the world at large, at first not a lot changes.  Julia still attends school, hangs out with her friends and tries to make sense of her eccentric grandfather.  As time crawls along, however, time becomes an unpredictable thing, a change so momentous that it leads to chaos, hate and even violence.  Meanwhile, Julia's dealing with the usual tween woes—friend fights, tension between her parents, and trying to get a cute boy to notice her.  While life moves slowly on, Earth's inhabitants are well aware that it's only a matter of time before life as they know it disappears forever.  

Like I said, not a lot happens in The Age of Miracles.  The book boasts some lovely writing and the subject matter is thought-provoking; all in all, though, it's just kind of dull.  Depressing, too.  A ho-hum read for me, this one failed to leave any big impressions, leaving me pretty much ambivalent.  Yeah, 'nough said.     

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a teensy bit of Safekeeping by Karen Hesse and of The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta)

Grade:  C+

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder invectives) and mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find         

3 comments:

  1. Um, if the world stopped spinning wouldn't it be completely disastrous?! This one sounds more like a contemporary with a apocalyptic element thrown in. :(

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  2. I'm going to skip this one. I need edge-of-my-seat suspense and fast-paced action in dystopian novels, too. (And apparently, I need hyphens in my comments :)

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  3. Sorry to hear you were underwhelmed by this book. I'd seen it in the shops and been intrigued by the idea. I may still give it a go, but wait for the paperback or the library to get a copy, and not raise my expectations too high.

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