Google+ If You Like Books: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker


If you like: decay * nonconformers *slow apocalypses

In The Age of Miracles, the earth inexplicably slows in its rotation. Things rapidly become unstable. Aspects of the physical world change along with the earth’s rotation: hours of daylight, the force of gravity, the magnetic field. People also become unstable. If you knew the world was ending, how would that change your habits, your career, or your fidelity? As the rate of rotation varies, everything becomes harder to predict. In spite of all modern technology and science, the events are completely unforeseen. With each new change people must adablity their lifestyle to accommodate the new world.

The physical consequences of the slowing of the earth are innumerable.The scientists in The Age of Miracles explore whether this could lead to an extinction event like those of eons past. As the slowing progresses, they learn that it will create a climate similar to that on Mars. As people look for another planet to escape to, it leaves the reader to wonder about the implications this has for our own origins on our planet, and what else may be out there in the universe. Additionally, the endurance of the human body and mind are tested. Two radically different schools of thought develop. One side believes we should keep to the normal clock day, and ignore whether it is light or dark. On the other hand, some humans attempt to adapt their circadian rhythms to the increasingly long day. Each concept has its merits and inadequacies.

The slowing of the earth is a leisurely unraveling of everything humans hold dear. This allows Walker to explore the full complement of human emotions. This is not like a typical apocalypse story, where people must make quick decisions to survive. Day-to-day life retains a strange sense of normalcy, at least at the outset. Julia, the protagonist, must endure all the trials of middle school, where it feels like the world might end on a daily basis, while the world is actually coming to an end. The global changes do not impact the cliques that form, or the struggles of teenage romance. Julia is often faced with the choice to belong as a member of her peer group, or being true to her own values and desires. Some people also develop a mysterious gravity sickness, which has some commonalities with anxiety disorders, but also debilitating physical symptoms. It seems that the pull of gravity even helps sanity to carry weight.  Walker questions how much our environment changes us. This brings an entirely new element to the nature vs. nurture argument – what happens when both our environment and society are turned upside-down and certain biological imperatives no longer exist?

If you want to belong, but have never felt like you do, read The Age of Miracles.

Thompson Walker, Karen. The Age of Miracles. New York: Random House, Inc., 2012. Kindle Edition.

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