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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 (775 )
5 star
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4 star
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3.7 (671 )
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Story
4.1 (670 )
5 star
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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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  •  
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 09-15-11
    Eoin Kilcullen, Ireland 09-15-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Subtle Character Piece"

    I loved this from start to end. Essentially a coming-of-age story, its diary format does not lend itself to strong plot points, and my major criticism is that the denoument is rather rushed at the end. But you can't help falling for Mori, especially for me, as she is such a SF/Fantasy nut and *devours* books.

    But I adored Katherine Kellgren's performance, and was amazed to find out she's from the US. The "singsong" accent, with its "changes of inflection" was, to me being a Celt, a really great Welsh accent, along with good Southern English and west-country accents. Well done Katherine! Yes, it may be a little difficult to get used to, but on the eastern side of the pond it works really well.

    Give it a go. It's a simple character piece that will make you smile.

    34 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bubbaben 06-26-14
    bubbaben 06-26-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    3
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    "kept waiting for a plot then the book was over"
    What would have made Among Others better?

    There was no real plot. Just like reading an interesting journal with a weird fight at the end.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jo Walton again?

    Only if recommended by someone I trust.


    What about Katherine Kellgren’s performance did you like?

    She was actually amazing.


    What character would you cut from Among Others?

    Characters were fine; they just needed to do something.


    Any additional comments?

    I bought this book because of the award but was very disappointed. I wish someone would have told me there was no real plot and a weak story to this book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Here-and-faraway 01-25-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Great Start, Weak Finish"

    I like a lot about this book: the vivid characters, the strong narration, and enchanted settings. Jo Walton does a fantastic job creating a captivating world that's filled with characters who seem alive. She deftly builds up the plot, but the book's climax felt rushed and flat - like the author didn't know how to end it.

    Among Others was an easy listen and I looked forward to hearing it everyday. I'm not a science fiction fan, but even though there are multiple references to scifi titles it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. I'm guessing fans of the science fiction genre would appreciate the extra layer, but the book is enjoyable enough if you aren't.



    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aser Tolentino Vacaville, California USA 05-19-12
    Aser Tolentino Vacaville, California USA 05-19-12 Member Since 2004

    I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I Think it Deserves the Hugo"

    There are several different ways you could go about narrating a book. You could simply read it aloud, you might go so far as to add inflection to the spoken parts. And if you want to stand out, you try to give each notable character a distinct voice. But if you seek to be as extraordinary as Katherine Kellgren, you must bring the story to life, imbue every word with color. There are some wonderful pieces online about the lengths Ms. Kellgren goes to achieve such dynamic performances, and it truly shows. The result is that this reading is anything but stayed, the narration achieving an artistic quality all its own. Of course, this means that it is even more a separate and distinct creature from the words on a printed page than any audiobook already is, and to some that might be a bad thing, possibly a very bad thing. But with a case such as this where the experience is far more about the person telling you the story than her story per se, the end result is truly delightful.

    It is understandable that for someone used to traditional narration, this performance might take some getting used to, because the emphasis on reproducing the character's voice occasionally overrides clarity, requiring you to pay closer attention than you might be used to. But this is more than worth it because if you give in to this way of relating the story, it's very much like listening to Mori speaking to you through her diary entries rather than listening to a woman read.

    This approach helps the presentation of the material immensely, since this is so much about one person's journey, her thoughts, fears, ambitions, and observational asides along the way. You cannot help but love this girl who has suffered so much but still loves so dearly in her own way.

    As for the end, it is rather sudden, especially given how the beginning so wonderfully takes you by the hand and leads you deeper and deeper into a world where magic is real, but always deniable, infinitely subtle and incalculably powerful. This book is a nominee for the 2012 Hugo Award for best novel. And though there are other worthy candidates this year, I would be very happy if it won.

    29 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 11-03-11
    Liz Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 11-03-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent book, beautiful narration."

    This book is a beautifully written account of what it can be like to grow up with different interests from everyone around you. It's not over-the-top on melodrama, as some "geek anthems" can be, but it's by no means boring. It's thoughtful and feels, above all, honest. As a reader, I felt less like I identified with Mor, and more like she and I might have been friends had we met in school; or maybe we'd have been in the same book club.

    Katherine Kellgren was excellent. She has really crisp diction and clear delivery, imbuing the words with emotion and emphasis without overdoing it. I really enjoyed her Welsh accent - I have family in Wales and I've always loved the musical quality of the language, and Ms Kellgren did not disappoint. It also fits the story, naturally enough.

    All around, a personal favourite.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Redmond, WA, United States 01-13-12
    Brian Redmond, WA, United States 01-13-12 Member Since 2011

    mrhodges

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    "Simply fantastic"

    What more can be said about this audio book than, "simply fantastic"? The narrator is in perfect tune with the story. The story itself is a fantastic coming of age tale celebrating the discovery of life and magic through a passion for sci-fi novels. This was one of the best audiobooks I have had the pleasure to listen to ever.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica lafayette, LA, United States 01-16-12
    Jessica lafayette, LA, United States 01-16-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Enjoyable"
    What did you like best about Among Others? What did you like least?

    I liked the conflict the narrator feels with her coming adulthood best. I liked the neat and tidy ending least.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Jo Walton? Why or why not?

    Yes. I do think she is a fair writer with a talent for writing novels literature fans can latch onto.


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

    I loved the Welsh accent. She makes the narrator come alive and injects personality and character. She made the people in the book real.


    Was Among Others worth the listening time?

    Yes.


    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 09-10-12
    Jim 09-10-12
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    "Not SF and not deserving of the 2012 HUGO"

    Coming of age story with an excellent reader. A reflective walk though of the SF genre pre-1980 by way of the characters reading habits and book club. In no way SF and only a marginal fantasy.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey 04-14-12
    Jeffrey 04-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Critically overrated; bonus points for nostalgia."

    I picked this up when it got a Hugo nomination, and went into it pretty excited. The results are fairly mediocre.

    This is a book where nothing much happens in the sense that the plot ark is more of a modest bump. This isn't automatically a bad thing in a book because a great character driven story can still provide a fantastic read, but that doesn't happen here, The characters are mildly interesting but never really compelling. What's worse is that some of the more interesting plot threads are simply abandoned by the end without ever being resolved in an ending that is both predictable and rushed.

    So why the Hugo nomination? That's easy: nostalgia. Mori, our protagonist, finds direction and solace in science fiction and reads incessantly offering a whose-who of pre-80s name and title dropping and an accompanying analysis of SF writers and stories of the era. I think many critics are willing to overlook a mediocre story because of the nostalgia and fondness they feel at listening to Mori discuss her relentless reading list. While these certainly provide the most interesting parts of the novel for a big SF fan like myself, it's not enough to carry the entire story. This was a great premise suffering from mediocre execution, and in the end fondness for listening to other people talk about classical science fiction shouldn't be enough to make us ignore the mundane story in which that discussion is embedded in.

    This is a perfectly acceptable story but not a remarkable one, and it certainly did not deserve a Hugo nomination. It will be most interesting to those who have read a lot of classic pre-1980 science fiction, and far less interesting to anyone without such a reading background.

    32 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Y. Ludeman Seattle, WA 08-13-12
    Lynn Y. Ludeman Seattle, WA 08-13-12 Member Since 2008
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    "This SF book is Brill! Hated the end!"

    I don't mean that I hated THE ending, I mean that I hated the fact that it did end! What an interesting, exasperating, quirky, loveable, frustrating character. Just like a teenager, and probably like me when I was a teenager! The accent was a little bit of a challenge for me, but I am in no way an expert on what a person from Wales would have spoken like in 1979, so my difficulty was just the strangeness of it. And that ended up working congruently with the story for me. I also got not only used to it, but kind of attached to it. I can hear Mori's voice in my head right now. I think I will look for a book club.... and will also add more SF books to my "to read" list, Mori's enthusiasm is powerfull!
    I absolutely loved this story, I loved how the story was told to me, and I loved the characters. I can't say enough about this book, I really enjoyed it!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
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