18 June 2012

Book review: Among Others

Among Others, by Jo Walton, 2011

This book was nominated for the Hugos in 2012, and it won the Nebula for best novel. I got it from a friend for my birthday.

Morwenna Phelps comes from Wales. Her twin sister Morganna was killed in a magical battle with their mother, and Mori's leg or hip was broken. She's taken away to England to attend Arlinghurst, the boarding school her long-absent father's sisters attended.

Mori doesn't fit in. She can't participate in any of the school's vaunted athletics programs because of her injury. She's not English, not upper-class. She misses the valleys of Wales and the fairies who populate them. Her only refuge is books. When she finally meets her father, she finds that he, too, is an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and they bond over that. She reads all the books in the school library and goes to the town library during their free Saturdays.

She discovers a weekly book club at the town library and gets permission to attend. She meets people her age who like SF, and some people her dad's age, too. She gets a crush on a boy with a bad reputation.

She tries to talk to the fairies in England, but they aren't as friendly as the fairies back home. She finds out that her mother is trying to do something, but she doesn't know what, only that she needs to stop her. The last time her mother tried something, she'd tried to take over the world (or at least their corner of it).

Among Others is very much a geek's coming-of-age story. Even if I've never read most of the books Mori name-drops throughout her diary, or don't understand what she's referring to, I can identify with the young woman finding people who are Like Her, who like the things she likes. She has doubts and fears and worries that the magic she worked to find people who read SF is the only reason they like her.

It's an enjoyable read, and Walton's prose is clear. Mori's voice is very much a teenager's, albeit a smart, geeky teenager's.

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