Everything seems normal when 11-year-old Julia wakes on a Saturday morning, until she and her family hear the news: the rotation of the earth is slowing. Natural disasters are inevitable and life as everyone knows it will be no more. The days and nights lengthen, gravity shifts, latent volcanoes erupt, and scientists don’t have any helpful answers. Amidst the frenzy caused by the slowing, we see the world through the eyes of Julia as she navigates through changes in friendships, her first love, and a crumbling family.
If you’re a fan of apocalyptic narratives, you should definitely read this book. Be warned, though, if you’re looking for end-of-the-world violence, explosions, and alien invasions, you will not find any of that in The Age of Miracles. Instead, Walker moves the story along at a rather leisurely pace allowing readers to experience the gradual effects of the slowing just as the characters do. She makes the whole concept of the slowing seem probable and real, which is very unsettling. This book has been marketed for adults, but I think it should also appeal to YA readers. The main character is in middle school and very relatable. From first bras to best friends who turn on you, teens and adults alike will identify with the ups and downs of adolescence.
It’s a pretty quick read – you’ll be on the edge of your seat wanting to know what horrible thing the slowing causes next – and has a satisfying ending. Pick up The Age of Miracles today (you might want to get in the mood by listening to REM’s song “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”) and you’ll experience an apocalyptic world so convincing that you may start counting the minutes in each day to make sure they don’t add up to more than 24 hours…
The Age of Miracles: A Novel, by Karen Thompson Walker, Random House, $26.00