Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “The Age of Miracles”

Krista’s #CBR4 Reviews #70 – 72

Keeping myself caught up, here are three more reviews. I am so close to my personal goal of 75 books!

70. A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury
Karen Kingsbury’s novel A Time to Embrace is the second in a two-book series (I reviewed A Time to Dance, the first book in the series, almost two years ago). This was available at my library and while I liked the first one, I received it for free in return for a review and didn’t enjoy it enough to by the second. So free from the library = a good way to finish out the series!

This book picks up right where Dance leaves off — the Reynolds are newly in love after coming incredibly close to getting divorced. They are still dancing together, taking the cheesy metaphor from the first book to a new dorky level (they literally dance together by taking lessons that involve lots of ridiculous laughter from Abby). Life is going great until a tragic accident (how seriously cheesy of me to write that cliche!) almost undoes all of the restoration God has brought. [You can read the rest of my review by clicking the link to my review blog!]

71. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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.” [You can read the rest of my review by clicking the link to my review blog!]

72. Son by Lois Lowry
In Son, we meet Claire, who is a few years older than Jonas (remember him from The Giver?) in the same community. At 12, she is chosen to be a birthmother, the least honorable but very much needed of jobs. Something goes wrong with her delivery and she is reassigned from birthmother to work at the fish hatchery. Claire feels compelled to know her son, though, and volunteers at the center where children are kept until the Ceremony of the Ones. Her son, Gabe, is the baby from The Giver who has a hard time adjusting and goes home each night to sleep at Jonas’s family’s house. When she finds out that Jonas and the baby have escaped the community, Claire boards a supply ship and escapes, too, in hopes that she can find her son, but the boat she is on capsizes and she washes up on the shores of a distance village. What happens next is her search to find her son before it’s too late. [You can read the rest of my review by clicking the link to my review blog!]

— Krista

sonk’s #CBR4 Review #20: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I generally try to avoid depressing books. Obviously some books are sad and make me sad, but I try to avoid the ones where the overall tone is essentially bleak. Because of this, I never, ever read apocalyptic novels. They freak me out and make me anxious and depressed and so I generally just choose not to read them. The last time I read an apocalyptic-esque novel was my sophomore year of college, when I had to read Don DeLillo’s White Noise for a class. It freaked me out so badly that I skipped class on the two days we were discussing it, just because I couldn’t handle even thinking about it.

Anyway, the point is, The Age of Miracles is not a book I would have chosen to read on my own. I read a description of the plot a few months back, noted the rave reviews, and decided I’d pass. But then my book club chose it as our next read, and so I had to try it. Let me just clarify again that I do not like these kinds of books, so my opinion of this book is clearly influenced by that preference. But if you do, or at least don’t have a problem with them, you will like this book a lot.

Julia is a typical eleven-year-old in a typical suburban American town living an all-together ordinary existence. Her life is turned on its head, however, when a shocking news report changes everything: the world is slowing down. While the implications of this discovery are initially unknown, it soon becomes clear that the world as she knows it is changing in drastic ways–and quickly. Juxtaposed with the world’s slow destruction is Julia’s development from a child into a young woman, which is marked by normal pre-teen problems including drama between best friends and budding relationships with boys.

This is a beautiful book, and Julia is a really great protagonist–she’s smart and perceptive and completely believable. It was so smart and so well-written that I’d sometimes forget that it was supposed to be YA. I thought that Walker did an excellent job of creating a plausible apocalyptic scenario without going over the top; having a child narrator did a lot to ground the narrative, I think. I appreciated that Walker avoided dramatics: her portrayal of the end of the world is quietly horrific, and she lets the events speak for themselves.

HOWEVER. This meant that the book was bleak as hell. To be fair, Julia’s innocence balances out the despair that sort of permeates the narrative–there’s some hope, even when there shouldn’t be. This made it a little easier to read, but not much. It was simply too close to reality for me, and the fact that Walker held back so much definitely contributes to that. It just was a little too plausible, and that made me uncomfortable (which is probably the whole idea).

Anyway, I’m not the best judge of this book. Objectively, it’s very good. But I didn’t enjoy reading it.

Random, interesting note: I looked at Walker’s acknowledgments page and it turns out one of her mentors was one of my professors last semester. Pretty cool!

Scootsa1000’s #CBR4 Review 32: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I have a huge stack of books that I’ve finished reading (actually, I might have completed my Cannonball, hmmm…) but I just need to sit down and write the reviews.  Well, today school started, and I find myself home with only one kid instead of three, so I might as well take advantage of the relative peace and quiet.  My favorite book in the pile was The Age of Miracles.

The Age of Miracles is the story of Julia, a pre-teen middle schooler with a normal life: a crush on a rebel boy who doesn’t know she exists, a best friend who dumps her for no reason, worries about being like other kids, etc.  But Julia is also the narrator of a very abnormal story — at the start of the book, the world learns that the Earth’s rotation is slowing down.

At first, this only adds a little bit of time every day, but soon, days and nights are lasting weeks.  The world becomes divided between those that continue to live on the 24 hour clock (as mandated by the government), and those who live by the sun and moon (which is considered a criminal offense).  Julia describes how she has to go to the bus stop in what seems like the middle of the night, and how hard it is to fall asleep when the sun is shining outside.  She talks about how neighbors have turned against neighbors in an instant, and how her parents have grown apart.  She loses some friends, but makes others that she never imagined possible.  And she deals with a lot of tragedy for someone so young:  she quickly learns more about illness and death than most kids her age.

We never learn much about what is happening to the world, or why, but the small changes that come about every day are dropped into the narration casually, which sometimes has a huge impact (for example, when she eats a grape, and then mentions as an aside that it was the last grape she ever tasted.  Same with pineapple).  It was the little things that really stuck with me, as opposed to the slow-going apocalypse.

I loved having Julia as the narrator of the story and seeing how while everything in the world is changing, some things — like growing up — always stay the same.  Over the past few years, I’ve read a bunch of “dystopian” and apocalypse stories, many with teen narrators, and this is my favorite since Life As We Knew It.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.

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