Book Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Genre: Children – Young Adult – Fiction – Post-Apocalyptic – Science Fiction

Available on: Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Synopsis: On an ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer; gravity is affected; the birds, the tides, human behavior, and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world that seems filled with danger and loss, Julia also must face surprising developments in herself, and in her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by her friends, the pain and vulnerability of first love, a growing sense of isolation, and a surprising, rebellious new strength.


The Age of Miracles is as quotable as a John Green book – but I was over halfway through it before I realized that I still hadn’t decided whether or not I actually liked the book. My initial impression is that it seems as though Walker was trying to write a coming-of-age story, but added a sci-fi element to it to make it more unique.

The story is told from Julia’s perspective through first-person narration. It’s also told as though the narrator is living at some point in the future – but the reader doesn’t learn until the end from how far into the future Julia is remembering the time.

Something unusual about the book is that, like the characters in Julia’s world, the reader can’t keep up with the timeline of events. Walker’s ambiguous writing style ensures readers are unable to discern exactly how much time has passed from one moment to the next – until Julia gives us a reference point. Now, this could be intentional, but it just left me with the feeling that the book covered much more time than it actually did – and there simply wasn’t enough new storyline playing out to warrant that extended timeframe.

Now, having finished it, I can say that I did like The Age of Miracles. It was an interesting concept, having the Earth slowly ceasing to spin. Paired as it was with the innocence of Julia and her day-to-day living, the story could have used some adult input, though my guess is it wasn’t done because then the author would have had to explain more about what was going on in the world. My only point of contention is the ending – the details of which you can read by opening the spoiler tag below. [spoiler] I’m not sure I understand how it’s possible for any of them to still be alive. They should have developed cancer years before the book’s end unless they literally never go out in the sunlight. If that is the case, that would mean they are all hunkering down in shelters for weeks on end, unable to contribute to the running of society – and thus they should have starved. However, I’m not a scientist, so it could just be beyond my comprehension.[/spoiler]

The Age of Miracles, more than anything, is a book that will make you think – about science, about humans, about everything that lives on this planet. As you can see from my indecision about how much I liked it – and the information in the spoiler tag, if you read it – it has certainly made me think. [And Google, if I’m completely honest. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a science course.]

I generally enjoy books that make me think more about the world and “what if” scenarios. For that reason, this book rated higher than it would have otherwise. In all, I can see this book being placed on recommended reading lists in schools as it would facilitate science lectures and discussions. Most notably, it will likely inspire questions as to the accuracy of how a similar, real-life situation would play out.


Reviewer’s note: A review copy of this book was provided via the Goodreads First Reads program.

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