Among Others

Among Others

Book - 2011
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Seeking refuge in fantasy novel worlds throughout a youth under the shadow of a dubiously sane half-brother who dabbled in magic, Mori Phelps is forced to confront her mother in a tragic battle and gains unwanted attention when she attempts to perform spells herself.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780765321534
Branch Call Number: SF WALTON
Characteristics: 302 p


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Feb 27, 2018

Very interesting book. Written in journal date style with sporadic story between journal entries. Not much detail on the main characters background but enough to keep reading. LOVED the voracious reading appetite of main character AND all the listed books/authors.

Nov 23, 2017

Essentially, this book is a coming of age story. With magic (set in the late 1970s, in Wales and England). The voice of the protagonist is achingly real- the entire story is her diary entries, so we see the world through her eyes. She doesn't want to think or talk about her mother (or her father, much), nor does she go into what happened to her twin sister.

In fact, for the first half of the book I was thinking she was an unreliable narrator (maybe insane, as she claims her mother is) and by the end of the book I was *still* wondering how much of this stuff was in her head. Real for her, but not for the rest of us. That's the magic of this book- the system of magic is "always deniable", and makes a beautiful sort of rule-less sense, so of course the entire story is also deniable. And breaks conventional rules of storytelling.

If you go into this novel expecting an epic showdown, as the synopsis hints, you will be disappointed. The pace is steady but slow, with little to no rising action until the climax itself (in the last 10 pages of the book). But the language, and the process of Mor essentially crawling into the world (not giving up her books, but not hiding behind them of her past anymore), is the true story.

I was surprised this won a Hugo, because the narrator's primary positive experiences with the world are with fairies, which always seem a fantasy element to me. But Mor is an avid reader, and loves science fiction (and given the setting, her SciFi books are the classics) and talks at length about the brilliance or insipidness of the books she's reading. So in a way, it felt like this real person (or perhaps the author? It does feel somewhat autobiographical) was recommending books directly to me.

If you like thoughtful, unique novels that aren't necessarily an adventure story, classic science fiction, magical realism, contemporary coming of age (where love isn't the trite answer to everything), a potentially unreliable narrator, and an authentic MC voice, I highly recommend this one.

SCL_Justin Aug 03, 2017

Jo Walton’s book Among Others is a librarian’s dream book. It’s about a 15-year-old Welsh girl in a terrible English boarding school in 1979. But Mor loves science fiction. The book is about reading science fiction and fantasy and the power that these stories have. And holy crap does she read. The book is full of commentary on Zelazny and Delany and Tolkien and who might have actually seen elves and known something about how magic really was.

Because Mor’s mother is a witch. At least, she’s alluded to as being a witch. And her twin sister died trying to stop their witchy mother from doing witchy things. But Mor is not an entirely reliable narrator in this story about magic that can always be explained by coincidence.

The librarians in the book are heroes. They help Mor meet other bookish people and place countless interlibrary loans for her. It’s the kind of book that makes me happy when I fill out those forms for my library members.

I believe it won the Hugo and the Nebula awards, but a lot of that has to be because of its near complete immersion in classic science fiction which would be near to the hearts of those prize-selectors. But still. A very good book about books.

May 21, 2017

This is such a beautiful and different book! Mor is a twin raised by her witch mother, and she regularly sees fairies. However, the novel is really about books and libraries, as well as the joy of finding a group of people who relate to you. It's not often that you find books that involve inter-library loan as a plot point!

Mar 30, 2017

I really enjoyed this book - the magic wasn't over the top but it was a major plot point. I can't wait to read more

Dec 21, 2016

Beautiful and brilliant. Anyone who has ever felt like an outsider should read this book. Made me go back and reread some of my old favourite science fiction novels.

Tyler__J Jan 27, 2016

A wonderful, thoughtful, genre-bending read for lovers of Science Fiction and those who don't think they love Science Fiction. In other words, everyone.

Jul 13, 2015

If you were an adolescent bookworm like I was, this book will break your heart. I saw a lot of myself in the protagonist. It's actually very low-key with its fantastical elements, more slice-of-life than anything. I definitely recommend it.

PimaLib_Teens Mar 19, 2015

A great books for teens, too! Morwenna is a 15-year old lonely, disabled student in an English boarding school (but this is NOT a girl version of Harry Potter!). The author weaves together the past and the present, revealing dark memories of Mori's childhood with present day journal entries of great sci-fi and fantasy books that sustain her. Her journey includes new friends and old enemies, but I won't give away the details of the final confrontation with her ambitious, black magic obsessed mother. You will have to go there yourself!

Hugo Award winner 2012

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JCLChrisK Sep 06, 2013

Libraries really are wonderful. They're better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts.

JCLChrisK Sep 06, 2013

[From the introductory “Thanks and Notes”:] People tell you to write what you know, but I’ve found that writing what you know is much harder than making it up. It’s easier to research a historical period than your own life, and it’s much easier to deal with things that have a little less emotional weight and where you have a little more detachment. It’s terrible advice! So this is why you’ll find there’s no such place as the Welsh valleys, no coal under them, and no red buses running up and down them; there never was such a year as 1979, no such age as fifteen, and no such planet as Earth. The fairies are real, though.

JCLChrisK Sep 06, 2013

Sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m entirely human.
I mean, I know I am. I shouldn’t think my mother is beyond sleeping with the fairies--no, that’s not how you say it. “Sleeping with the fairies” means dead. I shouldn’t think she’s beyond having sex with fairies, but if she did she’d boast about it. She’s never so much as hinted. She wouldn’t have said it was Daniel and made him marry her. . . .
What I mean is, when I look at other people, other girls in school, and see what they like and what they’re happy with and what they want, I don’t feel as if I’m part of their species. And sometimes--sometimes I don’t care. I care about so few people, really. Sometimes it feels as if it’s only books that make life worth living, like on Halloween when I wanted to be alive because I hadn’t finished Babel 17. I’m sure it isn’t normal. I care more about the people in books than the people I see every day.

Jun 02, 2012

"Doing is doing"

Jun 02, 2012

... people think there are dangerous things that can kill you, and everything else is safe. That's just not the way it works.


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