Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THE AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker

And you thought global warming was bad.  What if the earth's rotation rate started to decelerate, and we're not talking about a few seconds a day.  In this imagining, the days are lengthening at such an alarming rate that, within a year, a day has doubled in length.  The population quickly splits into two factions:  those who want to remain on the old 24-hour clock and those who want to match their sleep/waking patterns to the darkness/daylight.  However, the latter group starts to dwindle when they can no longer maintain sleep or wakefulness for 24 hours straight.  The impact on agriculture is devastating, and our 12-year-old narrator notes the occasion on which she eats her last piece of pineapple and her last grape.  Coupled with increased radiation from the sun and a sickness known as slowing syndrome, the outlook for humankind is pretty bleak.  Fallout shelters built in the 1960s are being provisioned for a different kind of apocalypse, and greenhouses are sprouting up everywhere.  This isn't a science fiction novel; it's more a coming-of-age novel in an unreal, but not necessarily impossible, setting.  People become more impulsive rather than reflective as things progressively worsen, and, seen through the eyes of a young girl, the situation seems a little less terrifying somehow.  Teetering on the brink of adulthood while most of the existing adults are having meltdowns is almost as scary as adapting to a planet that is losing its viability.  Almost.   I think I'll go enjoy another chunk of pineapple while I still can.

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