This is one of those books that are really difficult to explain. It’s really polarizing, and I can definitely see why. If you’re a person who likes a solid plot, reliable narrators, and a clear cut ending, then this might not be for you. I typically am that person, and about half way through I didn’t think I would end up liking this for that reason. However, there was something about Among Others that just stuck with me. I guess every once in awhile you just need to suspend your disbelief with a book, and with a well written book like Among Others it turns out it’s not so hard to do.
Among Others follows a girl named Morwenna (Mori) from Wales. Since childhood she and her twin sister played among mysterious other worldly creatures they call “fairies.” The twins lived a happy carefree life, but always in the shadow of their mother, a witch who wants to use dark magic and bend it to her will. The twins’ attempts to stop her leave Mori crippled, and her twin sister dead. Mori flees to England to live with a father whom she hardly knows. He sends her to a boarding school where her only salvation is books. Lots and lots of science fiction books.
This book is love story with book, and I love that. There is a fierce and protective love for books, libraries, and bookstore and what they represent for people.
“It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.”
“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.”
“If you love books enough, books will love you back.”
Just some of the many quotes about book love.
I could 100% identify with Mori on this. Books are my number 1 escape and they have always been. Going to the library was my number one favorite thing to do as a kid. (Still is one of my favorite things to do). I was that crazy kid who checked out 12 books at time and tried to read them all. Sometimes I succeeded, sometimes I had to renew them, but it was just fun knowing that I had a stack of worlds I could escape to at moments notice. Mori has an obsession with science fiction, and the novel takes place in 1979 when many new and exciting authors were coming out with incredible ideas. Every book she talks about I either already have on my list, or I added as soon as she described it. She reminds me of all of my online book friends with her passion and dedication to not only reading the books, but also in the way she just wants to share them with everyone.
What I didn’t love so much was the format of the novel. It’s told in journal entries, and I’ve never really liked that. It often ends on random or awkward passages. Mori’s voice also felt a little too young for her age, but then at times she would start wondering about things like sex and politics, and it would throw me because up till that point I thought she younger.
Another peeve of mine was Mori herself, she was a little too full of herself. She had the tendency to think “them” vs. “me” with her classmates because they didn’t read, or because they had different hobbies, and it got annoying very quickly. She was also extremely repetitive. She loves the library and interlibrary loans, (which I get) but she repeated how these two were about a gazillion times.
It is a fantasy book, so there is magic, but to me feels more like an after thought. The book’s focus is Mori and her transition to young adult, her love for books, and the challenges she faces dealing with grief. The magic is subtle, and it doesn’t really become much of a presence till the end. I think it’s good to know before going and expecting a full blown magical world like I did. This doesn’t bother me because I did enjoy the book for the most part, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect there to be more.
Overall, this was not what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it. I would recommend this to book lovers who enjoy coming of age stories with a little bit of twist.