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)
Checking out Brandon Sanderson's work
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.)
Lack of a plot. Constant discussion of SF authors a pointless addition to story.
Kellegren did a good job with weak material.
Hard to believe that this won a Hugo.
This book sort of caught my interest because of the accents and colloquialisms but that is about it.
It starts with little or no explanation how the girl got there accept a few vague crazy mother observations by only the girl and ends with a crazy mother and the mother does what????
Seems like reading a paragraph out of a long book without the context and expecting folks to enjoy it.
I originally got this book because I wanted to hear Katherine Kellgren read me another story. She's the absolute best audiobook reader I've ever listened to. The book reads like a diary, and the magic and Sci-Fi I was promised by the summary was very lacking. The Sci-Fi only really shows up as the main character drops constant shout-outs to her favorite SF authors, and the magic isn't as prominent as I expected. That said, I had trouble putting it down until I finished it. Despite the story not really being exciting, it was well written and never lost my attention. Katherine Kellgren knocked it out of the park again with her performance, as well. I can't point to any specific reason that I liked this book, but I would recommend it to anyone who has read a lot of science fiction or anyone who just wants to hear one of the best in the business read a really good story.
I was torn with this one just because i found the story rather depressing. It was really sad and didn't have enough 'up' moments for my personal taste. In saying that the story is very well written and the narration is fantastic. I loved the depth of the characters and the narraters accent choices for each one were perfect.
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