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.
“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)
Took me back into myself, into the worlds of books I dove into and jumped off from when I was a kid. I keep trying to tell people about the story, and keep finding myself saying "it's hard to describe... it's itself." And it is. Kellgren's narration is particularly splendid. I am glad I listened to the narration before I read the book myself, which is a bit of a shock to me, but listening to the cadence and passion Kellgren breathes into the first person storytelling was a warmly intimate way to meet Mori, and I savored it. Now to dig out the books that populate Mori's world, both the old friends and the ones she introduced me to.
I felt that the story starts after the actual interesting story has already ended. I kept hoping for flashbacks that would tell me the real story. I find it a boring trope to have the main character as some sort of super reader. There were just lists and lists of SF books that the main character reads and if you are not familiar with them then it is very boring. I started to eye roll every time the main character would start to chronicle her new favorite SF books and was wishing I was reading those books instead. If I read this book as a physical book I would have skimmed or skipped many sections. Underlying story is somewhat interesting but there is a lot slogging to piece together that story.
I was disappointed in the book. The other reviews were good but I found it painfully pretentious and mostly boring.
The audio novel is probably fine for the reader who likes this kind of story.
I don't believe I would
I need to remember to listen to samples before making purchases. No matter how good the story is, the narrator makes or breaks the experience.
Unfortunately, this audiobook was not my favorite - which perhaps explains why it was so easy to take a long break from listening to it! It is not a bad book, really, but the author chose to have this coming-of-age-story be relayed through journal entries. I think it would have perhaps been more successful in print version. Though I originally though that the accent would add to the fun of this, the narrator’s voice can be a bit distracting in the performance with some accents overly emphasized. What I like the most about the book is the obvious passion the journaler, Mor, has for reading - particularly Science Fiction novels. Though I have read quite a bit in this genre as well, this book includes her reactions to many titles that I had never even heard of! In fact, the majority of the book seems to be an outlet for discussion on SF literature - with a few classics sprinkled in. School, Mor’s fractured family life, romance and bits of magic are all rather sidelined by recountings of plots, characters, authors and a consistent dislike of maths. The climax feels rather rushed and genuinely unsatisfying - nor does it seem to mesh with the preceding pages (hours listening). Maybe it’s just that Walton too accurately captured a fifteen year old and that is why I never quite connected with the narrator...
Genre: Fantasy (technically, urban fantasy, but it doesn't fit any of the tropes)There is very little plot to this book, it is more a mood and character study. It is told entirely though diary entries of a high-school aged (or in Britain and Wales where the book is set forth form/lower fifth form aged) Mori Phelps during 1979. What has happened in the past is explained in dribs and drabs - there was an accident and Mori's twin sister died and Mori herself was crippled. This accident was either caused by their mother or caused by Mori in an attempt to stop their mother from doing something vile with magic, it's not quite clear. Mori was then forced to live with her mother after her grandfather's subsequent stroke and runs away. Child services sends her to live with her father, Daniel, who abandoned them when she was a baby, so he's a stranger to her. Luckily for her, Daniel shares her love of science fiction, not so luckily, he lives with his sisters who immediately pack the Welsh middle-class Mori off to an upper class British boarding school. Her only solace is reading. Her diary is filled with the books she's read obsessively, which are mostly science fiction, but she does read mysteries and Plato as eagerly. In many ways the book is an homage to scifi and fandom, but it's also a fond stroll down memory lane, when there was no internet and the way you discovered new books was to see them all bright and shiny in a bookstore and eagerly gobbled them up.
The way magic works in this novel is unique in my reading experience -- it's not like D&D, reliable do X get Y result. It's very fluid: the effects of a magic spell can't be foreseen, and can always be explained away. Mori struggles with the morality of her own actions magic-wise, which is made worse by the very intangibility of determining exactly what she did. There are fairies (although it's not at all clear that that's what they are -- that's just what Mori calls them) but most people can't see them, and they don't look like what most people think fairies look like; they aren't Tolkein's elves, or Shakespeare's Peaseblossoms and sprites, nor Tinkerbell. They are more earthy and non-human, and they generally don't talk - and when they do, they don't use nouns. Like classic fairy stories, it is best to treat them with caution, although Mori, being a socially awkward teenager, frequently fails to do so, with varying results.
I enjoyed the book very much - but it is not a fast paced action-adventure, if that's what you're looking for. It's more a slow period piece, examination of character, time and place. Off the top of my head I can't think of another science fiction/fantasy book its similar too. It did leave me with a substantial list of sci-fi classics i want to go re-read simply from Mori's excitement reminding me about them!
Katherine Kellgren uses a welsh accent throughout the audio book; it adds a lot to Mori's perspective and the class-conflict between her and her classmates, although it did take a bit to get used to initially.
For all the diary tone is fairly light, much of the subject matter was rather dark somewhat depressing.
My review of this book was going to be blah blah blah geeky sci-fi lit comment blah blah blah teenage girl angst. Blah blah blah geeky sci-fi lit comment. Blah blah blah WTF!
There are times when this book feels brilliant. But at about halfway through I started to wonder how in the world this book won both the Hugo and Nebula. I can only imagine how weak the competition must have been for this book you have won.
I'm giving this book 2 out of 5 stars. I feel that is being nice because there are times that this book tries really hard shine and has really cool references. But its lack of plot development kills everything else that it does cool.
Katherine Kellgren has a wondorful range and her reading of this is the best part of the book.
Say something about yourself!
Sure. It's an enjoyable listen and a good story. Kellgren's outstanding performance really set the pace for me. It's the kind of book that gives me a better apprecation for sci fi and the magic of a story itself.
Yes, and again after that... It's haunting, captivating, sweet and painfully real.
When the main character reveals what happened to her sister.
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.
No; I wanted to stretch it out because I enjoyed it so much.
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.
Illegitimi non carborundum
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.
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