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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 (712 )
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4.1 (613 )
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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.

    33 of 34 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.

    27 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Here-and-faraway Sunny California 01-25-12
    Here-and-faraway Sunny California 01-25-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.



    22 of 24 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.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan London, Ontario Canada 06-16-13
    Nathan London, Ontario Canada 06-16-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A love letter for classic sci-fi & fantasy"

    Written in the style of a diary or memoir, a fictional coming of age story of a teenage girl going to English boarding school in late seventies. It has the most realistic approach to how magic could exist in the real world, but there is very little magic actually done.
    If you grew up as the outsider and used sci-fi, fantasy or reading as a form of escapism you'll connect with this main character. At least half the book is of her views and opinions of classic sci-fi & fantasy stories.
    For some reason I found this an addictive read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 05-10-13
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 05-10-13 Member Since 2007

    notthe1

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    "Diary of nerdy girl is charming trip down sci-fi m"
    What did you love best about Among Others?

    I was completely charmed by this novel of a young girl growing up "nerdy" in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The teenaged protagonist, much like myself, loves to read and loves science fiction books most of all. She describes her life in diary form in a brisk, no-nonsense style that is never treacly yet always very teenager-y. Every entry contains tidbits about her life along with short descriptions of her reactions to the latest science fiction book she has been reading. To hear her talk about discovering Roger Zelazny, Ursula LeGuin, Kurt Vonnegut, Poul Anderson and dozens of others was for me to relive my first discovery of them, too. It was magical. I sympathized when she described reading some of Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" novels out of order, because I did the same thing. When she waxes poetic about Lord of the Rings and equates her situation to the scouring of the Shire, I knew exactly what she meant. When she matter-of-factly tells her diary that getting her first period didn't stop her from seeing faeries "despite what C.S. Lewis thought about puberty" I laughed out loud.


    Any additional comments?

    I worried others from other generations (or even other genders) might not enjoy the book as much as I had, but in my science fiction book club, people who were a generation older than me loved it as did the generation younger than me, men and women alike. We did generally agree that we thought Embassytown was better in terms of the complexity of the ideas contained in the book, but we could understand why "Among Others" beat it out for the Hugo.

    I would highly recommend readers do an internet search using "among others books mentioned" and you will find great lists -- no need to write them all down yourself. And you will have a list of scifi to read for years to come.

    3 of 3 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
  •  
    Janet Madison, WI, United States 02-20-13
    Janet Madison, WI, United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A very different coming of age story."
    If you could sum up Among Others in three words, what would they be?

    Blossoming, fannish, and different


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

    Love the accent. Really brought me me over to Wales with the voice.


    Any additional comments?

    It's not a usual coming of age story. The characters are all flawed, some with deep scars inside. Made it more real, more believable characters. Really enjoyed the book. Also enjoyed her discovering the fannish world and her love of books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Alvin, TX, United States 06-16-12
    Beth Alvin, TX, United States 06-16-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderful book"
    Where does Among Others rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book had the right combination of an excellent story and an excellent reader. I would put it as one of my top favorite audiobooks. It has the rare quality of being a book which I would listen to repeatedly.


    Any additional comments?

    The book, coupled with the narritor's accent, were enchanting. It was easy to get caught up in the world of the story.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 73 results PREVIOUS128NEXT
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  • Karen
    London, United Kingdom
    12/13/12
    Overall
    "A spectacular ode to science fiction"

    This book was one of my favorites to listen to since I started my audible subscription. The narrator is wonderful, and the welsh accent makes such a difference (an accent I know I wouldn't have been able to keep in my head if I'd read the book instead of listened to it). The story is complicated to explain, but not complicated to listen to, and the book is addictive in the best way.



    And for a fan of science fiction, it was like a hot bath and a comforting meal - even though the main character Mori read few of the same authors as I did, the feeling was the same, and it reminded me of how much love I felt for reading when I was a teenager, the way I devoured books and how much they impacted my life and my imagination.



    Just a wonderful book. I highly recommend it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jo
    GREAT YARMOUTH, United Kingdom
    12/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it"

    I wanted a nice gentle read with a bit of fantasy thrown in and thats what I got. I so loved this book and will listen to it again and again. I loved the accent, which was wonderful and left me wishing for more. It takes you through some of the issues faced by young girls as they enter womanhood especially those that are a bit different.

    It entwines the real bland and everyday reality with that of magic mysticism and escapism. It questions if one creates the other and is it reasonable or even advisable to try and control these – after all who wants to live with puppets or to become one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ann-Marie
    Gävle, Sweden
    4/20/12
    Overall
    "Listen is good but reading may be better"

    I can't decide what to make of it. I liked the book talk - the SF hints, bits and pieces. I also liked Mori. I did not like the story though. In fact, I don't think it really is a story. It could have been one but never gets to it. When ( at last ) something finally happen, it somehow belongs to another story, not this one.

    I really loved the narrator. She is excellent. Her welsh accent is wonderful.

    I think maybe I would like to read the book because then I'll have all the titles, quotes and nice literary stuff to go back to.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Elaine
    West London
    6/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I had not expected this to be so compelling"
    If you could sum up Among Others in three words, what would they be?

    For SF addicts


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

    The realisation of the heroine that her local library runs a weekly book club for SF enthusiasts; or perhaps when she finds out about inter-library loans.


    What about Katherine Kellgren’s performance did you like?

    I was initially put off by her Welsh intonation but after a few minutes this became quite addictive and I think she has added a whole new human dimension to what was already a very compelling read (as is often the case with first-class narrators).


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

    It's a slow-burn read, as the heroine is not one given to laying all her cards on the table. The impact of the book cannot be laid at the door of any one episode; it's the entirety of the book that is moving.


    Any additional comments?

    The more SF and fantasy you have read, the more you will get out of this book. One quibble: in a book set in 1979-80 with a heroine whose head is full of Tolkien, Niven, Heinlein, Le Guin, Delany and Zelazy (among others), even if she is cooped up in a girls' boarding school, how come she doesn't seem to have heard of Alien?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Annika
    Tallinn, Estonia
    12/31/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Does not seem magic at first, but..."

    It is a story about a girl who claims to see faeries and do magic, but reading/listening to over half the book it seems like it is a child's delusion like invisible friends and so on. And only in the second half magic becomes more real. I awaited a totally different story, but I like it much much more the way it is really written than it usually might have been written by someone else.
    Even without magic turning out to be real it would have been a fantastic book. I liked it a lot. I hope there are more like this from the writer.
    Oh, and I adore that all the nice characters read SciFi. ;)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    Newport, United Kingdom
    12/14/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some interesting ideas not fully realised"

    As a girl who grew up in the South Wales Valleys in the 70s and 80s, with a passion for science fiction and fantasy I had high hopes for this story. There was a lot to like. The central character was complex and appealing and the author developed some interesting characters around her. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories of going to Lears in Cardiff to find new SF books, and the burning passion I felt for boks at that age.
    However, the book was also very slow, and the fantastical elements felt a little clumsy. As the story of a girl coming to terms with the death of her twin and learning to love life again it was moving and thought provoking; as a story of magic less so.
    I also found the narrator very trying. As an American actress attempting a Welsh accent she did well enough, and if the accent had only belonged to a minor character it probably would have been fine, but as the voice of the whole novel it really started to get on my nerves. It was like Gladys Pugh trying to put on a posh accent! It really undermined the voice of the main character and I felt we lost some of her sharpness and wit because the accent was so ridiculously sing song.
    I would certainly try more books by this author, and this story has stayed with me, I just feel it didn't fully realise its potential.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hazel
    Cardiff, United Kingdom
    12/5/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Light on plot, high on nostalgia"
    Where does Among Others rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a lovely, meandering reflection on being young and being shaped by the magic of books. It isn't fast-moving like some books I've listened to, but every few minutes I'm reminded of my own adolescence and I smile.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The narrator's accent got a bit dodgy at times, but I'm from South Wales, so very familiar with what she was aiming for and therefore more likely to be jarred when it went wrong. It was still a fantastic effort for someone who isn't actually Welsh!


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book made me smile. I remember being a disabled child and having to rely on books, and on the escapism that only the very best ones could provide.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lynette
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    3/13/13
    Overall
    "Pointless"

    It is with regret I have to write a negative review for this book. Several times I gave up then thought no I must finish listening to see if there is a reason for this story. I am sorry to say it was as disappointing as I imagined and I should have gone with my gut instinct and given up earlier. Although I did like the characters I just felt it was just a wordy book and no real direction, just very pointless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shabra Dowson
    Malvern, England
    2/21/13
    Overall
    "I don't want it to end!"

    I haven’t finished listening to the book yet and I really don’t want it to end. I’m really believing in the main character’s existence and I’m sad that I have pierced ears because this means that I won’t be able to see fairies (not that I ever have). The narrator’s accent is just right. There is a lot of talk about science fiction books and I have a moderate interest in them so that’s fine, I might even read some of those that are mentioned. I really like the main character: she is brave and resilient, resourceful and interesting. I like the way the back story is slowly revealed through the diaries.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann-Marie
    Gavle, Sweden
    4/20/12
    Overall
    "Listen is good but reading may be better"

    I can't decide what to make of it. I liked the book talk - the SF hints, bits and pieces. I also liked Mori. I did not like the story though. In fact, I don't think it really is a story. It could have been one but never gets to it. When ( at last ) something finally happen, it somehow belongs to another story, not this one.

    I really loved the narrator. She is excellent. Her welsh accent is wonderful.

    I think maybe I would like to read the book because then I'll have all the titles, quotes and nice literary stuff to go back to.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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