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Among Others | [Jo Walton]

Among Others

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
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Publisher's Summary

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science-fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled - and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father, whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England - a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off.

Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

©2010 Jo Walton (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2012
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2011

“Walton succeeds admirably. Her novel is a wonder and a joy.” (The New York Times)

"Katherine Kellgren’s Welsh accent, with its lyrical cadences, suggests that audio may be the most authentic way to experience this 2011 winner of the Nebula Award." (Audiofile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (767 )
5 star
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3.7 (664 )
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4.1 (662 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jennifer Ourimbah, Australia 08-07-13
    Jennifer Ourimbah, Australia 08-07-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Warm, heart-rending realist fantasy"
    Would you listen to Among Others again? Why?

    Yes, and again after that... It's haunting, captivating, sweet and painfully real.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Among Others?

    When the main character reveals what happened to her sister.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Unfortunately, the narrator was occasionally hard to understand because of her strong accent. Once my ear became 'tuned' this was less of a problem, but it was frustrating at times very early on.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No; I wanted to stretch it out because I enjoyed it so much.


    Any additional comments?

    This amazing book can be read on two levels almost all the way through: a completely realist book about a girl's imagination compensating for tragedy and disability; or a fantasy story about ghosts and fairies. Either way, or both, it's beautifully observed, wry, whimsical and wonderful. My only qualm is that the ending felt too sudden and a little contrived, as though the writer simply decided to finish as quickly and efficiently as possible (throwing most of the ambiguity away). Still, even with that caveat, this is one of the best books I've listened to all year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura L. Neal Poulsbo, WA 08-06-13
    Laura L. Neal Poulsbo, WA 08-06-13 Member Since 2009

    Illegitimi non carborundum

    ratings
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    12
    1
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    "Great character study. Weak sci fi story & end."

    I almost gave one star only to the story, because there was barely a story. Frankly I found the diary format annoying - it made the minimal storyline seem to drag. But the character development merits an additional star or two. I'm actually a little surprised at the gushing of some reviewers, especially those who read the paper or e-book, but it did win a Hugo, so maybe I'm missing something. I suspect some Audible readers let the lovely accents and voices Katherine Kellgren brought to life sway them in favor of a really very weak and incomplete plotline. The story was intriguing but never very clearly fleshed out - I found myself left with a lot of questions, and I'm not exactly thick-skulled. Ever read a book, not been 100% sold all the way through but thought it might get better because of some good writing? Then you get to the end and you're like, "That's IT?!! I wasted all that time on THAT??" and feel totally let down? Yeah, this is one of THOSE books. I have NO idea why it won a Hugo. It would be worthy of a Young Adult genre award perhaps, for its excellent insight into the mind of a 15 year old female "other". But great sci-fi this is not, with all due respect to Ms. Walton, who I'm certain is more talented than I personally found reflected in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Los Alamos, NM, United States 07-09-13
    Beth Los Alamos, NM, United States 07-09-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Yawn - even with a good performance"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If your sole entertainment is reading books and comparing authors, then you might like this. You might like the main character. You really have to have read a lot of science fiction to even catch some of the references in this diary.


    What was most disappointing about Jo Walton’s story?

    Waiting for something to happen? Keep waiting, because nothing really does. Oh, wait. She reads another "SF" book and compares it previous stories.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    While used too frequently, her attitude to have people afraid of her, rather than sorry for her,tells you this is a strong character


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Idea that regular use of common items makes the items "comfortable" with you is intriguing


    Any additional comments?

    Finished, took effort

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce WEST BABYLON, NY, United States 06-21-13
    Joyce WEST BABYLON, NY, United States 06-21-13 Member Since 2000

    I love paranormal books, urban fantasy or paranormal romance, sci fi as well. A good mystery will make me happy as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better to listen to because of the narrator."
    Would you listen to Among Others again? Why?

    Yes, because there were so many references to sci fi books that I would like to check them out personally.


    What other book might you compare Among Others to and why?

    This is truly a one of a kind type of book.


    What does Katherine Kellgren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She brings the story to life with her accent. She makes it seem so real.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes and I did it in only a couple of sittings


    Any additional comments?

    This is a story of a 15 year old girl Welsh girl who loves sci-fi books and finds solace in them. It takes place in 1979-80 and is written as a diary. It is sort of a sci-fi book, sort of a paranormal book. It is very hard to actually classify this. The story is very engrossing and never boring. The characters are very well fleshed out. The narrator is absolutely perfect for this book. The sci-fi references are fun if you like older sci-fi especially. She is not a childish girl but a young woman made to grow up quickly because of circumstances in her life. I am certainly going to read more of this authors books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Reeve Florham Park, New Jersey USA 06-14-13
    April Reeve Florham Park, New Jersey USA 06-14-13 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous Book, Incredible Performance"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Among Others to be better than the print version?

    What makes this audio book better than the print version is that the main character, from who's perspective the book is written, is a girl from Wales who moves to England and gets put in a boarding school - and the narrator's accent changes gradually from Welsh to posh English and the story progresses!!
    You don't get an effect like that from the print version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How magic changes not just the future but the past.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I loved how the girl in the story gradually became attached to the father and grandfather she never knew.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela League City, TX, United States 06-05-13
    Pamela League City, TX, United States 06-05-13 Member Since 2002

    I love technology, reading, music, and shoes (not necessarily in that order.)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Long and Drawn Out"

    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 :-)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Haynes 05-10-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Worst book I've listened to!!"
    What would have made Among Others better?

    To me, the story was slow and boring. The narrator's Welsh accent was horrible.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 04-01-13
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 04-01-13 Member Since 2012

    I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Preferred Others"

    I'm a bit disappointed with this book, being that it won both Hugo & Nebula Awards. I think that's because it's so genre self-referential that it gives the voters goosebumps (much like 'The Artist' in 2012's Oscars).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Decatur, GA, United States 03-30-13
    Elizabeth Decatur, GA, United States 03-30-13 Member Since 2007

    I read speculative fiction, YA, mysteries, entertaining nonfiction, & occasionally, heavier literature. I want it well written & literate.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Among Others?

    Talking about the most memorable moments would risk spoilers


    What does Katherine Kellgren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Finding out what Welsh sounds like when I can't travel there was wonderful, and greatly added to the story


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A fascinating journey with one of the most memorable of literary young people


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SkyTigress 03-17-13
    SkyTigress 03-17-13 Member Since 2011

    SkyTigress

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Book Reviews + Fairies"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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