Saturday, May 13, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Among Others by Jo Walton

Long Review after the Jump:

Among Others is a book by Jo Walton that well, will read very differently depending upon whether or not the reader is a particularly big fan of the SF/Fantasy genre.  I consider myself having become a pretty big fan, although I have not read as many of the "classics" as others might have - so I enjoyed Among Others a lot.  Even without a love of the genre, one might probably like this book.  But given that a love of SF/F is part of the PLOT of this book, it'd be tricky to recommend to those who don't have it.

-------------------------------Plot Summary----------------------------
Morwenna - who goes by "Mori" or "Mor" - is a child from Wales who used to have a twin sister.  As a teenager, she walks now with assistance from a cane, having been injured in an accident that also claimed the life of her twin sister.  Mori believes that she and her sister have been involved with magic, magic that affects the very reality of the world, and has communication with faeries that other people, particularly ones who don't believe in faeries, can't see.  Mori also believes that her mother was also involved heavily in magic, and that she intended to use it for evil.

Now Mori finds herself living with her father, who ran away from her mother seemingly years ago, and is sent off to an English boarding school.  There she attempts to find a purpose in her life and to determine if she should attempt to do magic ever again, if such a thing is possible.  But it's at school and at the library that she engages even more heavily in her other passion: reading scifi/fantasy books and thinking about what those works truly mean.  With her past and her present-passion seeming to collide, can Mori resolve her two worlds and find a way forward in life?

As I mentioned before, I have not read a large number of the classics of SF/F.  And this book cites such works (and other older SF/F books that may not be considered classics) CONSTANTLY and the main character and some other ones discuss what they mean.  So I don't get the references, but even then, the tone and writing still make this book work heavily for me.  That said, it's not hard to see how this book wouldn't work for someone without any such interest in these books.  Especially as the book is ambiguous about whether or not the magic cited is real.

But again, this still works pretty impressively.  Mori is a great character and her struggle with her reality, whether she is doing the right thing through magic, her horror over what she has possibly done, and her attempts to find something in life make this book work really well (Which is good, because this is very much a one character book - no other character really gets any development).

Among Others actually won both a Hugo and a Nebula, and I kind of suspect the award was kind of like the Academy Award win for say....Birdman - the voters for those awards probably were inclinded to love a book that was in decent part ABOUT A LOVE OF THE GENRE, as you might imagine (It's not one of the best books I've read).  But the book is still pretty good and recommended if you do like the genre.

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