Release Date: 1st January 2014
Edition: UK paperback, review copy
One Saturday morning the world wakes to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow. As birds fall from the sky and days grow longer, people start to flee – but there is nowhere on earth to escape to.
Julia is already coping with the disasters of everyday life. And then there’s Seth: tall and quiet and always on his own; the skateboarding boy who knows all about disaster. As the world faces a catastrophe, Julia and Seth are facing their very own unknown.
I’d had The Age of Miracles in my sights for a while – it came out in the US in 2012! - so I picked it up very shortly after it arrived in a surprise package, and I loved it.
With the influx of dystopia and post-apocalyptic novels over the last few years, I was unsure how much originally there was left when it came to the end of the world, but Karen Thompson Walker delivered. The slowing of the Earth’s spinning seems a subtle idea that surely can’t have the catastrophic effects of the usual disaster-ridden ends of the world, right? Nope. Some of the things that the lengthening hours of day and night affected were so unexpected: crops, the weather, the atmosphere, sleep and a syndrome resulting in the change in the magnetic field and gravity on the Earth.
I loved how nothing really seemed all that different at first and then it suddenly started to snowball. The day got longer with each rotation of the sun, eventually reaching over fifty hours. It’s unimaginable. As The Age of Miracles was written in retrospect from Julia in her mid-twenties there was a constant feeling that it would only get worse, but the world would adapt. The entre novel is riddled with bad omens, hints and foreboding comments about what was to come, and yet Julia’s story still felt like an ode to humankind. The incredible resilience of human life, the fragile balance of our planet and how we take it for granted all slammed down on me every couple of pages. And yet, as one person, all of the things we could do as the inhabitants of Earth wouldn’t really do much to help at all.
None of this is really even touched on in the synopsis and it seems as if the romance between Julia – who at 11/12 was way younger than I was expecting – and Seth would be the main focus of the story. But it built slowly and beautifully, the two of them having very little contact until the world had changed entirely and the novel was two-thirds done. It felt refreshing and uncertain and innocent and it sat against an ever-changing backdrop perfectly.
I really loved The Age of Miracles and I’m already feeling the niggle to re-read it...
Thanks to S&S for the review copy!