The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Today I’m reviewing The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, the American novelist’s debut novel from Scribner Books UK.
How would the world react if the news suddenly broke, that a day had extended by ninety minutes? This is what faces Julia, a teenage girl living in the United States.
At first, there is mass confusion, public hysteria and twenty-four-hour news feeds, reporting what little information is available. Soon it’s revealed that every day’s length is continuing to increase. No one has any answers as to how or why, no one knows if it will stop. The government’s public admission to ignorance leads to panic buying, new illnesses are diagnosed, tidal changes occur, and entire species suffer from extinction.
As the light of day and the dark of night no longer mean what they once did, the government attempts to regain control of society the only way they know how – by enforcing ‘clock time’. This means living by the traditional twenty four hour cycle no matter what. Children attend school in the pitch black and are encouraged to sleep during sunshine. Some choose to live by the sun and ignore their body clocks completely, attempting to stay awake, then sleep for longer and longer periods at a time. As these people have shunned the government’s idea of what will hold society together, they become outcasts and create their own communities that are mocked and shunned.
As the days continue to extend, living conditions become increasingly difficult and Julia soon realises it’s not just the clock, but also people’s relationships that are changing too.
I hugely enjoyed this novel. It jumps straight in at the point of the world changing forever but it isn’t written in a predictable apocalyptic style. The story takes a very realistic and logical approach to survival in an ever-changing and unpredictable environment, which I personally find far more intriguing. It follows a family evolving to the changes and looks at how the world adapts to them. From the death of birds to altering gravity and global warming, all these changes are dealt with, with a survivalist attitude that makes the overall feel of the book far more genuine.
Due to the way the book has been crafted is also neatly fits in the everyday struggle of teenage life without the two issues ever feeling separate. The insecurities, first love, loss of friendship and anxiety for a future that is even more unpredictable than any of us have ever experienced. This novel has been one of the highlights of the years’ releases for me so if you need a recommendation, this is it!
If you enjoyed The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, you’ll love Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.