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I recommended this book to my book club based on the reviews, I don’t know if they will ever forgive me. I think I was the only one who finished it. Although I enjoyed the narrator, it took the book forever to get to the point. To me, there wasn’t much substance. I felt like I was listening to a chronicle of all the science fiction books every written and caught myself wonder whether or not I had read each book mentioned. Perhaps that was the point of it all, who knows? It was OK to read on my own, but not a good book club selection. GBC members please forgive me :-)
I read speculative fiction, YA, mysteries, entertaining nonfiction, & occasionally, heavier literature. I want it well written & literate.
Talking about the most memorable moments would risk spoilers
Finding out what Welsh sounds like when I can't travel there was wonderful, and greatly added to the story
A fascinating journey with one of the most memorable of literary young people
Have you read Jo Walton? I just finished "Among Others" and am very excited to find she has written a bunch of other books. "Among Others" is set in South Wales. The main character is fifteen, and a survivor of something horrible in her past, something not explained at the beginning of the book. She also talks to fairies, but the reader is unsure if they are really there or the product of a traumatized mind. Her main character, Mor, is wonderful. She is fifteen, brilliant, troubled, geeky, and obsessed with Science Fiction (Meg from "Wrinkle in Time" combined with Holden Caulfield), and the SF part is wonderful because the story is a frame for lists, discussion, and debate about books that I read during my first love affair with the genre, as the book is set in 1979. I loved this book, but it had something in common with one of my other favorite books, "Swamplandia". I think the author was propelled by her fabulous characters, and fabulous world, and didn't know how to end her story, so the ending was somewhat abrupt, a tad deus ex machina. But I will forgive her that because it was a fabulous journey. I listened to this book, and found the reader, Katherine Kellgren, to be wonderful. I had no idea what a Welsh accent would sound like (my kids were enormously amused by my struggle with the language in "The Dark Is Rising" series) so I was fascinated with the lilt and nuance of the language, but the aural book was also frustrating because I so wanted a written record of all the books mentioned and discussed. I should have used the note taking and bookmarking features, but I was too anxious to find out what happens.
This book is, to be frank, a bit slow. I like this in an audiobook, so it didn't bother me.
It is written in first person: the diary of a young 15 year old girl in the late 70s in England. Mostly, we hear of her day to day problems at school, finding friends, and what books she is currently reading.
Interspersed with this are her stories of fairies, strange creatures that only a few people can see, and her battles with her mother, who is an evil witch, while our main protagonist in a good witch.
I'm not sure if I would have loved this book when I was 15 or not. The protagonist resonates with my idea of my childhood bookworm days, but at that age, I would not have been able to catch many of her references to famous scifi ("SF") and fantasy writers. As it stands, I still didn't catch many of the references. I personally often felt as if these references were overwhelming the story.
That being said, it's an enjoyable read, even if it is extremely sad at times, as our protagonist talks about her experiences with her dead twin sister in a matter of fact tone. I certainly finished the book with a long list of additional books that I want to read.
The voice actor, Kellgren, is a great deal of fun, and while at times the way she says "actually" and other words becomes a bit much, it's too much in a fun way, with her wonderful accent.
Reading Fantasy and SCI-FI on audible.
I read this book because it is the 2011 Hugo award winner for best SCI-FI novel. Now my assessment is based on the fact that I expected SCI-FI. What I got was a pretty good story told from the first person via a diary about a teenage girl with an odd past. There is mention of magic and some use of magic, alot of discussion about fairies and even more discussion about SCI-FI authors. But very little actual SCI-FI.
That being said, the story is compelling and the performance is great. The setting is the late 1970s in england and the reader brings off the various accents very well. I loved the reading and the story is pretty good. It is just not SCI-FI (at least from my background).
Book Lover in Ottawa
I gave this book a shot as it was the 2011 Nebula Award Winner and 2012 Hugo Award Winner for best novel. After listening I'm astounded that this won any awards. Maybe my gap is this is considered a young adult book. Or maybe it's because it references so many other SF and Fantasy classic boors or it works at a level for young readers, but I don't see why or how this won awards. Don't get me wrong, the story is ok to good and I enjoyed listening to it, but it is just not of award winning caliber. The story seems to drift along slowly for most of the book and then crams all the conclusions into the last thirty minutes.
The book is a chronicle or diary of a girl named Morwenna (Mori) over about a number of months as she discovers herself and gets her life on track after a horrible accident that kills her twin sister. There are mentions of fairies and magic, but not to any extreme. Read any review and you'll get more of the picture of the story.
I think what I enjoyed about this book was the narrator, Katherine Kellgren. Mori is a Welsh girl and the narrator's accent just works for the character. Others have complained about not understanding a word, but I had no issues with the narration and felt that's what made the book most enjoyable for me.
In conclusion, if you are interested in this type of story, it is worthy, but there are many better books that I would consider as alternatives.
Don't want to get spoilery so I'll just say that I loved the narrator and thought the coming of age story was interesting, but the plot was not very satisfying. I guess I was hoping there was something more interesting going on than the actual story. The reader is amazingly good, I'm not a native but the accents seemed spot on and shifted over time as the characters changed. Still recommend it as a listen.
I love fantasy and science fiction and loved the references to various authors and books. I enjoyed the main character and the story but it felt unfinished to me. I wanted more clarity at the end. I liked the world that Jo Walton created and that you were unsure whether the faerie world was real or something created by our main characters mental instability. I wanted more of the faerie world and I felt the ending was quick and unsatifying. It could have been carried into another book. As it was it felt unfinished.
I wasn't sure at first that I would like Among Others. I began not being able to relate to the main character. However, as the narrative unfolded, I found myself really liking and relating to her. I especially like all the Science Fiction references. It was too bad that, unlike having a book, I couldn't write all of them down. I did most of my listening in the car.
I also really thought that the narrator was fantastic. Her accents were great and he narrative extremely engaging.
I enjoy, epic and modern fantasy, science fiction, business, historical mystery, and technology books. Fav. series: Game of Thrones, Vampire Earth, Dresden, Iron Druid, Falco mysteries, Chris Anderson titles, Peaceful Warrior, and the Way of Kings (and more, of course;)
Among Others has a protagonist, Morwenna, who is very easy to connect with, especially given the diary-style of the narrative. She is a kind and courageous young girl/teen who shows both vulnerability and strength dealing with many real-life and otherworldly troubles.
What is very curious about this story is the simplicity of the plot. That's not to say that the story is childish or weak, it is not. There is great character development and an intriguing, gradual introduction to the backstory and slightly paranormal world Mori lives in, that makes you want to listen constantly and feel a real connection to the main character. But there are few surprises or complications to the story - the plot runs simply and straightforward, (with many key events having already happened) although it's not obvious which way it will run from the beginning.
I suppose this shows that the gradual reveal of backstory and the backdrop obsession of sci-fi/fantasy novels that the main characters have far outweigh the simple yet satisfying climax, which is character appropriate.
Two more details: The only criticism might be that while the character's journey feels complete, the story feels as though it could have gone in several directions and had a bit more going on at the end - although I suppose turning it into an action story at the end would have not really been in the spirit of the rest of the story.
The homage to classic sci-fi/fantasy is a lot of fun for anyone who is passionate about books, whether a fan of classic sci-fi or not. It allows the character to express her opinions, values, and passion for great writing while giving the author a vehicle for paying homage to classic authors and stories that probably shaped the lives of many young readers.
A unique and thoroughly enjoyable story that I would recommend for any fan of sci-fi or fantasy!
(One last comment: the narration is fantastic! The main character and narrator equally had me eager to get back into my car so I could listen more.)