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Among Others Hardcover – 18 Jan 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (18 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076532153X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765321534
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,806,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Among Others is a wonder and a joy. (Jeff Vandermeer, New York Times)

If you love SF and fantasy, if reading it formed your teen years, if you do remember the magic you used to do, if you remember the absolute joy of first discovering those books, then read this. (Robin Hobb)

Funny, acute, and impassioned (Ursula K. Le Guin)

A hymnal for the clever and odd - an inspiration and a lifeline to anyone who has ever felt in the world, but not of it. (Cory Doctorow)

Most fantasies evade opportunities to make the impossible plausible, to give magic accountability in a realistic setting and moral and emotional weight in a modern novel. Jo Walton accepts the double challenge and meets it with courage and skill . . . Among Others is a funny, thoughtful, acute and absorbing story all the way through, but in the magic parts it is more than that. (Ursula K. Le Guin Guardian)

Possibly earning itself the Book of the Year title is Jo Walton's thought provoking Among Others, which stays with you for a long time after reading. It is the story of a young girl from a magical family who is sent to a mundane boarding school and, through her discovery of classic SF novels, has her mind and world expanded. (Independent on Sunday)

A lovely story, unlike anything I've ever read before: funny, touching, and gently magical. (Patrick Rothfuss)

There are the books you want to give all your friends, and there are the books you wish you could go back and give your younger self. And then there's the rare book, like Jo Walton's Among Others, that's both. (io9.com)

Among Others is about a young girl brought up in a magical family who is sent to a mundane, non-magical school; a captivatingly told mirror image of Harry Potter. (The Guardian)

I don't believe I've seen, either in fiction or in memoir, as brilliant and tone-perfect an account of what discovering SF and fantasy can mean to its young readers... Remarkable. (Gary K. Wolfe Locus)

Beautifully crafted... Among Others calls to those who desire a wild, magical world in place of the one they have but eventually learn that their own lives are the greatest story of all. (Bloomsbury Review)

Compelling... Never deigning to transcend the genre to which it is clearly a love letter, this outstanding (and entirely teen-appropriate) tale draws its strength from a solid foundation of sense-of-wonder and what-if. (Publishers Weekly, starred review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Winner of the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Winner of the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel. 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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A book about magic that deals with it in such natural terms that it becomes plausible, because it is so unobtrusive. The narrator Morwenna, is one half of a set of twins who through her diary entries, reveals her escape from her mom (and Wales) to live with her estranged dad, Daniel, in England, and her foray into a girls’ boarding school.

At the heart of it, lurking in her subconscious, is the demise of her twin, rendered unspeakable and referred to indirectly, and her connection to the fairy folk, mentioned in a non-magical way, which makes the extraordinary ordinary, and perhaps more believable for the lack of fuss with which it is dealt with. Along the way, we learn that her mother is a witch, when a schoolmate asks her about her photos which her mother has burnt the part with her sister away. We know not whether to believe her because prior to this she lets on that her mother may have found her through the things she owns, as if through magic.

What anchors the novel in reality is ironically, the narrator's escape into science fiction novels. Morwenna is an avid reader and it is clear that Walton too, is a huge SF fan and many of the books referred to are discussed in some detail, like mini book reviews in their own right. Real authors and real novels that deal with future worlds and alternative realities are strangely juxtaposed against Morwenna's own fantastical (but nonetheless) real world. While this works well, there is a sense of the story lacking a centre and the plot with her sister and mother is constantly deferred in favour of discussion about these SF novels.

The writing is inconsistent, with sentences that sound clumsy, and some editing problems where an extra preposition or two interrupts the flow of writing. Quite a surprise for a novel that is so highly regarded. Overall, it was a patchy though interesting work.
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By Joanne Sheppard TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Sept. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's quite common in fantasy literature for a child to think they are 'normal' and then suddenly discover they're actually magical, at which point they're plunged into a magical world of which they initially struggle to make sense.

In Jo Walton's Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel Among Others, however, it's almost the other way round. Teenage narrator Mori comes from a family of witches and has spent her childhood talking to fairies with her twin sister in the Welsh valleys. But at the start of the novel, recently bereaved and estranged from her terrifying mother, Mori finds herself in the care of a father she's never met and sent to an English boarding school where magic is in decidedly short supply.

If this makes Among Others sound like a cutesy, comic children's book, don't be fooled. It's aimed at adults (although I imagine many teenagers would thoroughly enjoy it) and although it is indeed funny in places, its overall tone is wistful and occasionally very sad, although there's a pleasing undercurrent of hope throughout. Obsessed with fantasy and sci-fi novels and academically gifted, but with an eccentric perspective that makes her awkward among her peers, it's hard not to love Mori as she narrates her story through a series of diary entries, even when her decisions are dubious.

And yet, the thing that I enjoyed most about Among Others is something I haven't really seen any reference to yet in any other reader reviews (I haven't read any reviews by professional critics yet) - which is that it's very hard to say whether Mori really is magical at all. As she explains herself, magic makes things happen by causing 'chains of coincidence'.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jo Walton's dedication at the beginning of the book, perhaps gives the reader an insight into what Walton is trying to achieve here. She writes;
"For all the libraries in the World and all the librarians."
This is a book for book lovers.
The story starts in May 1975, in a small town in Wales and the focus is the local Phurnacite Factory which eventually closes down; an incident the main protagonist Morwenna believes to be the result of a strong wish.
The narrative, quite stream of consciousness, is a little confusing at first but the reader quickly discovers that Mor is a surviving twin. In 1979 she is sent off to boarding school by her three aunts and her father. Mor is partly isolated because of her disability and the need to use a cane.
When she gets to boarding school the girls all seem to stare at her shoes because, in Mor's own words, they are 'cripple shoes'.
This novel is a veritable reading list for the avid reader. Mor's father's study is brimming with SF paperbacks, which he gladly shares with Mor as part of her education.
It's a rather nostalgic piece of work as young Mor delights when her father gives her an Ace double, which many may remember from their childhood. On top of this, Mor sees and talks to fairies, a fantastical element to the novel which leaves the reader doubting her; she is the typical unreliable narrator.
An inkling of what you can expect from this book is best summarised with Walton's own words as she talks about Zenna Henderson and Pilgrimage;
"I can bear anything as long as there are books."
And that is the essence of Among Others.
It is not about fairies. It is about Mor's journey in life and the solace and addiction of the SF literature she discovers, which makes her life mean something.
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