Among Others

I don’t think I would have read Among Others (Jo Walton) if it weren’t for its Hugo nomination. That would have been a serious shame, since it’s a beautiful and interesting book. I definitely think that it deserves the nomination.


Sort of like Brave, I think Among Others isn’t really best served by the way it’s advertised on the back blurb. The back is all about the conflict between Mori and her mother, and makes it sound as if there’s going to be some sort of epic battle that we’re building toward. Which I guess could be interesting and all, but is really not as beautiful as what the book actually does.

Yes, there is a final confrontation with Mori’s mom at the end. It takes up less than a page. I felt it was almost anticlimactic, after what the back cover implies.

No, rather it’s a book about grief, and loss, and moving on, and growing up, and being your own person in the face of a culture that doesn’t understand you. It’s about finding people who like you for yourself instead of trying to force yourself to be another person for the sake of others. It’s about knowing when to say no to what others want and do the brave, scary thing of deciding that it’s your life and you have to live it. It’s about so many big, fantastic things. I suppose it would have been hard to cram that on the back cover, but still.

The main character, Mori, is vivid and interesting. The book is written to be her diary, so it’s very conversational and frank. Not only that, but frank about things that normal fifteen-year-olds things about (like sex) without apology or obfuscation. I found that very refreshing. Fifteen wasn’t that long ago for me, and a lot of what she says still speaks to awkward, teenaged me that hides in the back of my head.

Most charming was that Mori is, herself, an enormous scifi and fantasy literature geek. She talks a lot about what is now considered somewhat classic scifi/fantasy, since the book is set in 1979 and 1980. I found it fun to read someone’s delight as the books were coming out. Since I wasn’t even born until 1980, I can’t say if it’s 100% accurate on what was out and when, but I’m going to assume it’s pretty accurate. I strangely enjoyed Mori talking about Dragonflight and Dragonquest and eagerly awaiting The White Dragon. By the time I got to those books, they were all out and I could consume them in one long stretch. (Other than All the Weyrs of Pern, which is one I eagerly awaited myself.)

So there’s a lot of scifi/fantasy bringing Mori closer to others when she finds people with similar interests. It’s something I identified with a lot, and also not something that often gets touched on.

It’s a quick, easy, and companionable read. So far, I think I’ll have a hard time choosing between it and Deadline, though I still need to read Leviathan Wakes.

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