For a while the days still felt like days. The sun rose and the sun also set. Darkness was followed by light. I remember the cool swell of morning, the slow burn of afternoon, the sluggishness of dusk. Civil twilight stretched for hours before fading finally into night. Time slunk lazily by, slower and slower as it passed.
Julia is eleven when the earth’s rotation starts to slow down. No one knows why, but the extra minutes in the day soon turn to hours. Julia continues going to school, constrained by the 24 hour clock but otherwise getting on with life as best as anyone can.
The concept is an interesting one. It’s not just that we would get more hours in the day (how many times have you asked for that?) but our entire existence would be affected. As the world slows, gravity is affected, animals governed by the tide and magnetic fields lose their way, crops fail under harsh conditions and human health, mental and physical is strained. There are lots of incredibly interesting snippets about what would happen throughout the story but they seem to be cut short every time. I wanted more in-depth science. Perhaps it wouldn’t have felt genuine from a young narrator but the lack of it let me down.
The first person narration feels very much like an adult reminiscing on the past and not that of a child. It comes across as a bit distant. Julia, understandably, is more concerned with boys, best friends and training bras than the end of the world, yet it doesn’t have any of the passion that a young adult narrative would have. Besides the slowing, she goes through plenty of things that should really be quite emotional at her age. It’s also hard to picture the world where Julia grows old enough to look back in an objective manner.
I was also thrown off track from the start. We are told that it happened gradually and no one really noticed apart from a few night owls. That we gained nearly an hour before anyone said anything. That it was broken via television. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure some clever people would have commented on social networks if it had happened over time. There are people that pay attention to when the sun rises and sets, I even have an app for it. Yet from then on, it seems like the hours are gained quickly. I think the whole book is set over less than a year. Again, some scientific information might have helped me set things straight in my brain.
It is a short and easy read and I’m sure it will be popular this summer. There’s enough of interest to engage those who aren’t hungry for science but like to read about such scenarios. I’m not sure Julia’s coming of age story is strong enough to carry the book by itself. I usually complain that books are too long, yet there is a part of me that thinks an extra 100 pages wouldn’t have gone amiss here.
The Age of Miracles will be released on the longest day of the year, 21st June 2012, in hardback and ebook formats. It is published in the UK by Simon & Schuster and in the USA by Random House and is also one of the Waterstones 11. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.