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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous Affirmation of the Transformative Power of Literature
A marvelous affirmation of the transformative power of literature in the education of anyone, not merely the adolescent protagonist of this novel, "Among Others" is a beautifully rendered celebration of fantasy and science fiction as literature, worthy of recognition by a readership that should extend far beyond the typical audiences for fantasy and science fiction. If...
Published on 11 Aug. 2012 by John Kwok

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The power of words and the imagination
Having just finished AMONG OTHERS, I find myself struggling to find a way of how to start this review, or how to classify this piece of work.

The book is set out in diary entries, the author of which is a fifteen year old girl, Mori. What we learn throughout the book is only what Mori allows us to know; as we are reading her diary, effectively, you have to...
Published 24 months ago by Brida


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous Affirmation of the Transformative Power of Literature, 11 Aug. 2012
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
A marvelous affirmation of the transformative power of literature in the education of anyone, not merely the adolescent protagonist of this novel, "Among Others" is a beautifully rendered celebration of fantasy and science fiction as literature, worthy of recognition by a readership that should extend far beyond the typical audiences for fantasy and science fiction. If you love books, if you understand how they can inspire you and sustain you, then you have to read "Among Others", since it is not merely a most affectionate love letter for those who admire greatly both fantasy and science fiction. Walton's novel is also an enchanting coming-of-age story, demonstrating how her protagonist, Morwenna Phelps, finds refuge in the power of the written word and in an expanding social network of like-minded fans of fantasy and science fiction; a saga which should resonate strongly with anyone who began loving great literature in their youth. The more magical aspects of "Among Others" should not deter potential mainstream fiction readers, especially those familiar with the more fantastical elements of Jonathan Lethem's "The Fortress of Solitude" or Pete Hamill's "Snow in August". While delving into the make-believe worlds conjured by the likes of Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Silverberg, and J. R. R. Tolkien, Morwenna also tempts fate by performing magic in her English boarding school, plunging unexpectedly towards an emotionally charged climax in which she must confront both her own destiny and her half-crazed magician mother's. This beautifully written ode to fantasy and science fiction is destined to be remembered as a classic work of fantasy and realism, admired and cherished by readers for generations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The power of words and the imagination, 7 July 2013
By 
Brida "izumi" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Among Others (Paperback)
Having just finished AMONG OTHERS, I find myself struggling to find a way of how to start this review, or how to classify this piece of work.

The book is set out in diary entries, the author of which is a fifteen year old girl, Mori. What we learn throughout the book is only what Mori allows us to know; as we are reading her diary, effectively, you have to appreciate that although there are two sides to any story, here we are just getting the one. And what we learn about Mori is fairly restricted; we know that she has recently gone to a boarding school, paid for by her aunts on her estranged father's side. We also learn that she had a twin and that she believes that her mother is a witch. Finally, what we know for sure, is that Mori has a damaged leg, leaving her a cripple.

Mori is an interesting character - although she alludes to her past, there is no real substance offered. Of course, this may be partly because she does not have all of the information herself; her father's departure from the family being one of them. But, despite her talking about her mother frequently, often referencing how she is using magic to try and do harm to her, Mori never fills in the blanks for us. We are never sure why her mother should be trying to harm her. Mori is also very unlike her peers; on a few occasions throughout the book, she makes reference to how she feels that she worries more about the characters in her beloved books than the characters she encounters through everyday life. "I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books" is a lament that she sincerely makes.

Yet, despite us being able to know Mori intimately through her inner monologues, and despite feeling some kind of empathy for her, AMONG OTHERS is unusual because of how little actually happens within its pages. Mori fervently believes that she can see fairies, for example, and this, along with her reflections on the SF books she reads, make up the driving force of the novel. As another reviewer has stated, the back story of her mother and her dead twin are lost, making this book feel quite insubstantial. The ending is definitely curious - true to the nature of the book, it does not really give you a climax as other books may. You are left not really knowing what, if anything, has taken place. Instead, I am wondering if it was some sort of allegory, suggesting that Mori has finally chosen to 'grow up'.

AMONG OTHERS is such an unusual book that I am unsure as to who I would recommend it to. Although I share Mori's passion for books, her favourite genre is one which I do not follow, so her constant reference to different books from this particular genre did leave me a little cold. However, I loved the way Walton handled the fairies; the descriptions of how they looked and how they communicated was a delight.
So, if you're looking for something different, this book may be for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Evocative for SF and library lovers, but no masterpiece, 28 Jun. 2013
By 
John Tierney (Wirral, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Among Others (Paperback)
I happened upon a mention of this recently and was so excited to receive it from Amazon. I spent my youth reading SF and much of my 20s ensuring I'd read every book that had won the Hugo and Nebula awards and give that this won both (a real achievement) I wasn't even put off by the fact that there is a strong fantasy element to this book (something I steer well away from).

It starts well - the first-person journal of 15-year-old Mori, who has lost her twin sister in an accident caused by her black magic mother in an incident involving fairies and an explosion. The details aren't entirely clear, but we catch up as Mori moves away from the maternal side of her family to meet her father Daniel (who left when she was a baby) for the first time and attend a private girls school in Oswestry in 1979. Mori has a passion for reading, especially SF, and we watch as she ingratiates herself into an SF book club which meets weekly. Her father also reads avidly and there are many, many mentions of SF books - Zelazny, Heinlein, Le Guin, Silverberg and many other authors are referenced in mostly glowing terms.

There are some wonderful tributes to authors, books and libraries. I loved libraries when I was young and I think the author did as well. "Interlibrary loans are a wonder of the world and a glory of civilisation" enthuses Mori, breathlessly, but I can't help but agree with her.

But there are some problems for me with this book. Firstly there is less a plot, than a series of opportunities to mention books. And the interesting part of the back story (witch mother, dead twin) is never explored in any detail and we are left to guess most of it. The fairies themselves are actually quite well done, being difficult to both see and converse with. But there is a lack of direction and climax and lots of muddled characters (all the extended family members seem to blur into one, no matter what side of the family they hail from). Astonishly what appears to be an attempted sexual assualt is casually dismissed by Mori and never mentioned again.

I did enjoy the commentary on books and the fact that she realises that the Number of the Beast is not classic Heinlein (it was this book that put me off him for the first time) and has to be told about his right wing tendencies (I didn't get that at her age). And I like most of the authors she likes, so I did like thinking "yes, I read that and I liked it too" whenever she mentioned a book I liked.

I didn't read any of the Hugo and Nebula award finalists that this book managed to beat, but I have to say that Among Others can't hold a candle to the masterpieces of yesteryear - Le Guin's The Left Hand Of Darkness and The Dispossessed (both referenced within this book in glowing terms) tower above it.

I did see one review mention that this was a YA offering and I can see that might be the case, but it was not mentioned in the publicity or book description and I might have approached with less expectation if I had know this.

Ultimately I think there was a missed opportunity here for a clever book about how out imaginations can lead us astray and towards the end I thought the author was about to take that step, but she shied away from it and I was disappointed.

3 stars for all the memories and something fairly well imagined and constructed, but no more I'm sad to say.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads well, 24 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Among Others (Kindle Edition)
I read this with considerable enjoyment despite not having a great liking for magic as a genre. Jo Walton very cleverly allows you to hold off from making a decision about the existence of 'fairies; and magical action throughout the book. They could all be real or merely the overheated imagination of a young girl with many problems in her life. I also like her view that magic, if performable, is so fraught with unintended consequences ranging from one end of the universe to another that it is best avoided except on an entirely personal level. The tale ended well enough but I would have liked a bit more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed bag, 28 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Among Others (Kindle Edition)
An unusual book really. Part homage to SF and Fantasy as a narrative reading list, part 70s coming of age memoir, part faerie story. I didn't feel the strands were well distributed, as the reading list side was overplayed. Strands of narrative we're unsatisfactorily abandoned. But it had charm and the central character was interesting and well written ( and likely partly autobiographical ). So a decent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For genre lovers, 25 July 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Among Others (Kindle Edition)
This is one of those books you love or hate. I've rated it three stars fairness because it really wasn't my kind of thing, BUT it is also about books, libraries, interlibrary loans and keen readers. So I did enjoy parts of it.

Saying that, there are also fairies in this part-fantasy and witches in the real world, which I just didn't buy. Just as I never liked Alan Garner's books. Not for me.

I had to finish, seeing as it won two major fantasy awards, and I could see that fantasy lovers will really relish this.

A fifteen year old, Morwenna, has lost a twin and her ability to walk without limping due to an accident. This was the result of a 'battle' between them and their witch mother. Sent to England from her home in Wales, it's mostly a story about Mor fitting in at school, and discovering the joys of interlibrary loans to borrow mountains of fantasy books. A lot of the book centres on her reading and joining of a SF (science fiction) book club and contains lots of references to both well known and obscure genre books. She meets a nice young man. They see fairies. There's a potential showdown with her mother brewing.

The book stuff I liked, the fantasy I didn't, I didn't find they sat well together, and I thought the ending was rushed. Some nice fitting-in and growing-up parts, but one rather disturbing scene with her just-met father that is never referred to again.

If you're a genre fan you'll probably love this. If you're not, it's hard work maintaining credibility and letting references you don't understand go over your head.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A layered tale with much to give..., 8 Jan. 2013
By 
Michelle Moore (Dartford, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Among Others (Hardcover)
Among Others was first published in 2011, and has won two awards - and yet reader reviews are varied. Having been sent a copy for review, I can see why. There's a lot to love about this book, but also some aspects which can be annoying. I started off very unsure, but by the time I put it down, it had worked it's magic on me, and left a smile on my face. It's not the easiest to review, so please bear with me if I ramble around...

On it's surface, Among Others tells the story of Mor, a fifteen year old whose twin sister was killed in the accident which has left Mor with an injured leg. Trying to get away from her mad mother, Mor ends up with her estranged father and her aunts, who send her away to boarding school. There, Mor deals with the grief of losing her sister, whilst accepting who she is, and the limitations she faces from her injuries. She discovers more about her family, and experiences her first relationships. Yes, on it's surface, this is a coming of age novel, but there are some interesting twists.

Mor and her sister grew up seeing and playing with fairies, and her mother is a witch who tried to harm them. This gives a wonderful layer to the story, but is in no means the focus. This isn't your traditional fantasy novel, full of other-worldly creatures and magical spells, and it's quite possible that the fairies exist only in Mor's mind - deciding which gives an interesting aspect, and readers will all have their own views.

The book itself is in a diary format, and runs over 300 pages in hardback and 400 in paperback. It's a slow, mellow tale, just as you would expect from this format. To me, the first half was a little too slow, but then I've recently been reading some snappy YA novels, so this took some getting used to. There's also a final aspect, which is both a positive and negative - Mor spends most of her time reading Science Fiction, and many of these books are mentioned and discussed. For fans of SF, I would imagine it would be fun spotting your own favourites, as well as checking out those new to you. For others, though, it becomes a little tedious, like being on the outside of a cliquey group. However, a book about a love of reading is always a bonus!

This is a book best approached with no expectations, and with plenty of time to give. If you allow it, it has much to give back.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From one lover of interlibrary loans to another, 14 Sept. 2012
I kept exclaiming aloud whilst reading this, Mor just sounded exactly like me on so many points - about Welsh/English differences, how tap water tastes completely different outside the Valleys, and the blessing of civilization that is the free interlibrary loan system. I will certainly be using it to track down Mor's reading lists, in the case of any of the more unusual books she devours that might not be on here - I've never read SF before, but this has inspired me to give it a go.
The plot isn't the point of this book, so much as Mor's insights - and I liked that. Sometimes it's nice to get to know the character more, which the diary entries allow you to do. The author has captured the experiences of a childhood in the Welsh Valleys, with all the idiosyncrasies that entails, absolutely perfectly. It's lovely to have read this, and to return to it when I get homesick at uni! Will definitely be reading more of Jo Walton, a new author for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connecting to the child I once was, 8 April 2013
By 
Pamela Thomas (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Among Others (Paperback)
I'd never heard of Jo Walton until I read a review of this in a national newspaper, and thought I'd give it a try. And how glad I am that I did! Because (apart from the crucial fact that I didn't do magic or see 'fairies') I could relate so strongly to Mori's love of books, and so many of them were ones I read when I was her age or older. Le Guin, Tolkien, Tey, Renault, Douglas Adams, she describes them all. And I could relate, too, to her childhood world in the woods and valleys and hills around her Welsh home, the names she gave the places that were out of books, the vivid life of the imagination - or was it just imagination? - that she and her twin sister lived.
So, this is a book for people who can remember what it feels like to be a bookish, intense fifteen-year-old, out of step with school friends and adults, retreating into her own world. It is NOT a book for people who want car chases or tentacled aliens waving space guns. It's a book for people who think, and dream, and wonder.
And a note to reviewers who give one-star reviews because a book is 'boring' - do kindly tell us why. 'Boring' is not enough. It's inadequate, lazy, and contemptuous. If that's the only word you can use to describe a two hundred page book, then don't bother at all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 19 Dec. 2013
By 
S. Coverdale "samjam" (Derbyshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Among Others (Paperback)
A wonderful book. Told from the perspective of a young person who has been through traumas and has an unconventional and dysfunctional family. A must for adults who were avid sci fi readers as teenagers as these books are the main characters refuge as she makes her way through adolesence and learns about herself, friends and family. What is real and what is imagined is up to the reader to decide. A beautifully written and well crafted novel.
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Among Others
Among Others by Jo Walton (Paperback - 21 Mar. 2013)
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