The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Julia, a young Californian girl is approaching her 12th birthday when the world’s rotation begins to slow. With days and nights growing longer and longer this becomes known as The Slowing.
I don’t know what I was expecting with The Age of Miracles, but it sure wasn’t a coming of age story. I wasn’t expecting a slow-moving story where not a lot really happens considering the ramifications of the world’s day and night cycle growing longer. But you know what?
I loved it!
The story unfolds from the perspective of Julia, an 11-year old, Californian girl and her trials and tribulations of dealing with feeling lonely, fitting in at middle school, and dealing with her crush on a boy called Seth. It’s the usual stuff of fake friends, fitting in and first love. Julia’s world is changing, not only because of the The
The science of The Age of Miracles isn’t exactly watertight, and I did find myself asking a lot of “What about…?” questions. However, I didn’t find this lessened my enjoyment.
The gradual creep of the dying Earth is poignant with birds falling from the sky, tides changing, and eventually, all vegetation dying. I couldn’t help thinking of T. S. Eliot’s quote: “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper”
The chaos that the Slowing brings is hinted at with the mentions of increased murder rates and violent crime, but everyone around Julia seems to be very calm in accepting their impending doom. Food stocks don’t seem to run out quickly and there isn’t the expected chaos at the supermarkets — indeed, Julia’s mother always manages to come home with a few more tins of food for the store. There soon becomes a gulf between the government-backed Clock-timers, and the fringe Real-timers which I found interesting, but again, there was little actual conflict between the two groups.
The Age of Miracles had such a dreamy feel as if the book itself was suffering from the confusion that an insanely long day/night cycle would bring. I found it odd how they steadfastly continued to live normal lives in the face of such extremely abnormal conditions. In many ways I found it to be an indictment of our society — ignoring the reality of our planet’s issues in order to progress the economy. Plodding on in vain. Attempting business as usual in spite of radical changes to the world.
The Age of Miracles is an apocalyptic tale without an apocalyptic plot. For that reason some will love it and some will hate it. Like I said, I loved it and one day will return to the book to relive the hazy, dreamy experience.