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Among Others Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 322 customer reviews

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a stunningly wonderful book.

I have never read anything that so perfectly captures the experience of being fifteen, a science fiction reader just discovering some of the greats of the field (not to mention fandom!), the new kid in school who doesn't quite fit in, the young woman just starting to reach for adulthood, and not sure where she fits in a family where no one except her imperfectly known father seems to share her interests and concerns.

Of course, Morwenna's problems are in a whole different league from my own at her age. Morwenna's twin sister was killed in a car accident that left Morwenna crippled. That accident was their witch mother's retaliation for their successful thwarting of her spell intended to make her a Dark Queen. Now Morwenna is dependent on the father she's never met.

On the one hand, Morwenna and her father Daniel bond over their love of science fiction. On the other hand, her aunts, his three sisters, decide that she belongs at Arlinghurst, the same boarding school they attended, so that's where she goes. It's a tough transition for her, a crippled girl among enthusiastic athletes, a Welsh girl amongst mostly upper middle class English girls, an enthusiastic reader amongst students who think reading is only for studying. But she's smart, and determined, and doesn't really see any better alternatives, so she finds ways to cope.

And as she struggles to find her own place, and her own friends, and her own path, she discovers that the threat from her mother is not over. Together with all the normal adolescent challenges, Morwenna also does battle with her mother's hostility and ambitions, the ethics of magic, and the desire and opportunity to be reunited with her sister.
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Format: Paperback
Jo Walton is a gifted writer and storyteller. So expectations were high for this book. In the "Thanks and Notes" section, she references how hard it is for her to write what she knows about. Interviews elsewhere reveal that this novel revisits her own past and transmutes her actual mother's mental illness into the practice of witchcraft. One can feel her struggle coming to terms with her past in this book, which is beautiful and heartfelt but has very little action; it's further marred by an ending that feels too manufactured -- as if she wrote an outcome in fiction she wished had happened in real life.

Her description of fairies -- their powers, their speech, their actions and appearance -- is unique in that it captures the feral quality of entities of earth and nature not particularly interested in human wants and desires. But other aspects of "Among Others" are somewhat lacking.

It's hard to know if Walton wants us to see Mori, the heroine of the tale, as an unreliable narrator; Mori often doubts herself and uses the excuse of "magic" as a means of rationalizing others' behaviors (her aunts won't let her cook in their home and want her to pierce her ears, members of a book club she joins mid-year friend her willingly while her schoolmates scorn her) and seems to distance herself from others as a matter of course.

One thing Walton captures is the intensity (and inanity) of young girls' diaries; her many details make the diary feel real but it can also be tedious to read in parts. Although I am also an avid reader and know many of the books she references, this novel may feel like an inside joke that excludes non-SF readers for those who aren't familiar with the works mentioned.
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Comment 30 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Among Others is a fun, interesting book, and I sped through it in one day. Looking back though, several flaws detract from what might otherwise have been excellent.

Through her journal entries (which are really just regular first-person narration), this book relates the story of Mori, a Welsh teenager and lover of science fiction who is sent to an upper-class English boarding school after fleeing her abusive mother. Mori doesn't fit in with the other girls and spends the bulk of her time reading, primarily science fiction. She's a sympathetic and relatable character, particularly if you were an odd kid who read a lot; I love the way she talks about the inter-house athletic competitions, for instance, which everyone else takes very seriously and she couldn't care less about. The book is well-written and does a great job of keeping questions in the reader's mind at all times, particularly as Mori takes her time in telling us about her past. And the discussions of class tensions in 1970's England, as well as the trouble readers had to take to find books by their favorite authors before the Internet (we're spoiled nowadays!) were interesting.

A couple of minor SPOILERS follow.

But there are several problems. Most notable (and ironic, since Mori criticizes other books for this) is that the book is just way too pat. Mori forms close bonds almost instantaneously with every other reader she meets (and there are a lot of them, as she joins a book club halfway through); the first guy to catch her eye soon becomes her boyfriend; the last couple pages are almost sickeningly sweet. And then there are all the unanswered questions.
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12 Comments 62 of 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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