27 September 2012

Audiobook Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Published: 21 June 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 369 (hardcover) / 9 hrs 3 mins (audio)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic

Source: Own Library


'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophies are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown...' What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself. 

My Thoughts

If you've ever had to get up in the middle of the night to catch a flight, you'll know how disorientating it is to have to get up at 3am - you tell yourself that you need to go to bed at 8pm the night before, but the sun is still up and you can't sleep, so you stay up until 10, or 11, and then hate yourself for it when the alarm finally goes off.

In The Age of Miracles however this becomes the reality of life, with the rotation of the earth slowing, nights and days become longer and longer and everyone has to adapt to a new way of living.

As an almost obsessive apocalyptic fan, I had high hopes for The Age of Miracles, but the books is very different than I thought it would be. More of a coming-of-age story than a tale of the apocalypse, it's told through the eyes of 11 year old Julia who is also struggling friendships, boys and her parents relationship which seems to be falling apart.

Particularly interesting for me though was the theory of 'clock time' that the government institutes, and causes a direct clash between those that live by the clock, and those that live 'traditionally' - sleeping when it's dark, awake when it's light. As the days and nights become longer, the lives of the two groups become more and more distanced from each other.

I did have a few issues with the writing itself - it's very lyrical and full of quotable lines, but that doesn't ring completely true for a story with such a young protagonist, and nor did it satisfy my world-building cravings - I wanted more of what was happening in the wider world and the global effects of the change.

I think if it had been written from a different perspective, I would have enjoyed this one a lot more, but the audiobook version was particularly engaging - I'm not sure how it would translate in written form, but I fear it would be far too slow moving for me.

If you like coming-of-age stories in a unique setting I think this could be the book for you. But if you're looking for a fast-paced post-apocalyptic romp it may be a little disappointing.

The Audiobook Version: The narration really highlights the lyrical language of the book but not to the extent that I had to really focus on listening. Of course, I had to listen, but audiobook listeners will understand what I mean - the story washes over you rather than allowing you to zone out and miss key points in the storyline. The narrator, Emily Janice Chard, did an excellent job of narrating an 11 year old girl whilst keeping a mature tone.


  1. I have never listened to an audiobook. I really need to change that.

    It's too bad you didn't get what you wanted out of this one, I can see what you mean about the perspective maybe being wrong for that. It still does sound like a very intriguing premise though. Great review!

    1. Never?! You totally should!

      It's not a bad book at all, just not as much action as I'd have liked!

  2. I'm not a big Audiobook person so I'll have to take your word on the narration being well done. I am also glad to see that this book is less apocalyptic and more coming of age. I sorta suspected it might be. Don't know if I will still give this one a go then but thanks for the review.

    1. I had the same suspicion but high hopes nonetheless.

      It's a good PA-introduction though.

  3. Oh, I love the name of the book. The Age of Miracles.
    And the plot really looks interesting. For the world to slow down, and nights and days overlapping.
    This book really looks like something and I will definitely add it to my TBR list.
    LOVED your review,

    1. It's such an intriguing, and scary, idea!

  4. I bet this would be awesome on audio. I read the whole thing aloud on the drive from Pittsburgh to Atlanta. I loved the writing, and had more problems accepting some of the science of it.

    To be fair to Walker's writing, though it is about a twelve year old girl, you find out at the end that she's written this as an older woman in her twenties, I think it was.

    1. The writing is certainly very good, and definitely one of the highlights. I think if I'd known from the beginning it was a woman looking back, I would have liked it more, but if I was an adult talking about my childhood, personally I would have 'matured' it a bit more, just based on life experience.

  5. I actually really enjoyed the book. I reviewed it, too, and put my link at the bottom in case you're interested! I read the book, didn't listen to it, and I thought it was a good introduction to science fiction for non-sci-fi readers. I understand your thoughts about the writing seeming strange because of the young protagonist, but she is telling the story when she is older, so I didn't have a problem with it. I actually thought the pace was fast, and I read it in a day. But that's what reviewing books is all about: differing opinions! :)


    1. You are so right, it's definitely a great introduction read to the genre. I didn't listen to it in a day, but I had trouble pausing ;-)



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