Release Date: January 2012 (First January 2011)
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 302 (Kindle Edition)
Author Site: http://papersky.livejournal.com/
My Rating: 4/5
Cover: Thumbs up, it’s very pretty.
Startling, unusual, and yet irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…
Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
I had this on my TBR list for a while and saw it while browsing through the library’s available eBook selection. I’m glad I decided to give it a go because I am really surprised by how much I enjoyed it! This is a very different kind of coming-of-age story that has magic and the love of books woven tenderly into the pages. I’m only sad that I haven’t had the time to really dive into science fiction like the author herself has. I think I would have appreciated the book references more if I had read them myself, but you don’t have to be a science fiction fan to be a fan of the main character, Mori. The long list of authors and book titles within the story will keep me busy for quite some time though =)
The book blurb does a fine job of giving you a nice summary of what Among Others is about so I won’t bore you with my own synopsis. If the blurb isn’t enough to grab your attention than maybe my opinion will help. I didn’t have much expectation going into this novel. My science fiction/fantasy knowledge is still in the “baby-making” stage and I had never picked up anything by Jo Walton, so really all I had was the blurb to go on. But shortly after starting the book I noticed that I had never read anything that flowed quite like Mori’s story. It’s written in journal-like passages, which is nothing new, but I discovered that the story telling was captivating. Mori herself is an odd and unique character that I immediately liked without really understand why. And of course by the end of the story I still couldn’t quite get why I liked Mori so much but I didn’t really give a hoot.
I could see and even feel the love of science fiction, and reading in general, that the author has. That was one of THE best aspects of the novel for me. The way books become companions for many of us is beautiful to read about especially for a character as young as Mori. I discovered my love for reading a little later than I would have liked and I envy Mori’s passion for books. I think I was expecting something more on the fantastical side when it came to the use of magic but what surprised me is that I enjoyed the subtle way Mori’s magic became an integral part of the story. This restrained usage, I think, added more by making Mori’s life and the things she was facing stand out more. There were many occasions Mori herself questioned whether the things happening were coincidence, fate, or had something to do with her magic. It really made me think outside of the box and I quite liked the experience.
I know I’ll be reading more my Jo Walton. I’m also excited to start on some of these well known authors (that of course I know nothing about) that were so much a part of Mori and her story.