Among Others by Jo Walton
Read April 28, 2015
Premise: After a mysterious accident, a teenager runs away from her controlling mother to her father she has never met and is sent away to boarding school. There are fairies, magic, and a late-’70s science fiction book club mixed in.
Verdict: I devoured this novel in one day. For a start, the descriptions and philosophies of magic are so close to my own that it was a bit like reading my own ramblings. Magic in this novel is easily dismissed as chance or coincidence, but it has far-reaching consequences and implications. The fairies can be real or can be her adolescent over-active imagination. The narrator, Mor, is sent away to a crappy boarding school and has to deal with being an outsider. And then, in a desperate effort at connection, she finds a science fiction book club in the local town and basically keeps notes on her lit crit activities for a huge list of classic sci-fi. This book is pretty amazing. There’s the sort of wish-fulfillment you’d expect from a novel about an outcast nerd, but there’s also plenty of self-empowerment and coming into one’s own. Mor was recently crippled in a devastating accident, and there was a line in there about this story being what happens after the adventure novel ends and is the boring stuff you’re not supposed to see. I liked that. I also loved the way blood relationship was presented as not really that important when it comes to forming close bonds. Just sort of generally, I’m curious if the prevalent (and gross) idea that “family” cures all and loves you in a disgustingly simplified, pervasive, and simultaneously dismissive way is a cultural wish fulfillment of its own? This is one of my pet peeves so I was really thrilled that this novel was like “you know, these people might be related to me but they really suck and I need to be away from them.”
Holy crap, this was amazing. Please read it (and every book mentioned in it) and let us discuss.