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Customer Review

165 of 218 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Miracle I'd Looked For, May 10, 2012
This review is from: The Age of Miracles: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I wanted to like this book--I expected to like this book--but somehow I can't.

What we have here is a science-fiction themed coming-of-age story that narrates a year or so in the life of an 11- or 12-year-old girl. If I'd understood that this is a book for children / young adults when I started reading it, I might not be as disappointed as I was.

Age of Miracles is definitely not for adults. The writer's voice is too earnest, the science too soft, the plot and point of view explicitly adolescent.

I did find things to like about this book. On the whole, it is quite readable. The premise of the book is an interesting one, and Thompson is a writer who understands rhythm and cadence. Her voice is strong and consistent (if a bit stilted). The main character, a thoroughly unremarkable, somewhat timid woodland creature of a girl, is well-realized and persuasive; her concerns, thoughts, and actions rang true. I expect many readers, like me, will readily identify with her and want to care about what happens next to her. Sadly, not much does.

The book is readable, and yet somehow hollow and unsatisfying. The back story--that the earth's rotational spin is slowing down--would seem fertile ground for exploration, yet the devastation and chaos that would surely ensue remain stubbornly in the background and unbelievably muted. If the protagonist is well-developed, the same cannot be said of the supporting cast. They are either overtly one-dimensional or so mysterious as to remain shadow figures.

There is a flat, dead aspect to everything about the book. Perhaps that is intentional, a literary tip of the cap, as it were, to nihilism, apathy, resignation. If so, I don't think it serves the writer or reader well. I can appreciate the author exploring the idea that there are situations that come from out of the blue, that aren't anyone's fault, that have no solution. But if everyone has emotionally checked out and nothing much happens, who cares?

Who cares?
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 25, 2012 4:51:22 AM PDT
I completely agree with this review. I was waiting for something to happen for the entire book, and nothing did. The writing was passive and, yes, stilted.

What a disappointment.

Posted on Jun 4, 2012 7:00:32 AM PDT
J Ryan says:
I agree with most of what you say, however I disagree with your overall rating. Like you say, the premise is an interesting one and the main character is well-realized. The things you do not like about this book can be explained by the fact that it is indeed a book for children/young adults. The story is told through the voice of the main character, and as you say the supporting cast is mysterious however I got the sense that it was intentional--that it is how the narrator views the supporting cast. The same goes for the back story. The narrator is far from omniscient, so the reader must interpret the narrator's description of the events.

Compared with the rest of the young adult fiction out there these days (though it should hardly be a baseline) this novel is well-written and intelligent. It is very grown up for a young adult novel in that the story is not shoved down the reader's throat. The story is carefully laid out, and causes the reader to ponder the characters and events.

I do not know that I would have given it a 5 star rating, however I believe the the 2 star rating does not do this novel justice.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 10:22:14 AM PDT
Actually, it is being marketed as an adult book, NOT a children's or young adult book, although surely there will be crossover appeal.

And the issues that I have with the book have nothing to do with the intended audience. I felt that NOTHING happened -- I was waiting and waiting and waiting.

Readers looking for a young adult book that's more compelling and fully realized should check out Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It.

Posted on Jun 22, 2012 9:12:14 AM PDT
RealWoman8 says:
This sounds like it might be a good one to get from the library. I was pretty excited by the description, but then I read a comparison to The Lovely Bones, which was one of the dumbest and most disappointing books of the century, and that discouraged me a bit. But still, I think I'll give this one a try eventually. I like the premise.

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 11:18:54 AM PDT
Barbara B. says:
I'm NOT accusing you of being sexist, but I wonder if your reaction would have been the same had the main character been a young boy instead of a girl? Many males have difficulty "getting into the head" of women, particularly girls. That's why books (and movies) with female leads are often considered chick flicks or chick lit, while those with male protagonists are more mainstream. Just a thought ...

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2012 1:14:47 PM PDT
I am listening to this on audio. I am quite enthralled with the narrator and the voice of Julia. For those who think "nothing happens" perhaps it is the case with this book, as many others, that it's the journey, not the destination.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2012 1:17:30 PM PDT
I think it's a matter of taste. I agree with this Washington Post book review:

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 6:18:28 AM PDT
Amy says:
Agreed, I really thought I would like this book. There was so much hype & publicity but I found very little substance. I just kept waiting for something to happen, for a story line to develop.

Posted on Aug 8, 2012 3:01:50 PM PDT
JaeJ says:
This is a great review! Succinct, articulate, and informative. Thank you. This is one of the best book reviews I have read on this site.

Posted on Sep 13, 2012 9:04:27 PM PDT
Edwin Wintle says:
I agree completely. For me this was a Y.A. book and if I'd known that, I would have been less disappointed. I'm curious whether it's being sold as Y.A. in the U.K. or elsewhere ("The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" was Y.A. there but not here).
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Review Details



Jacques Talbot

Location: Oakland, CA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 153,984