Thompson Walker has set up a very convincing dystopian thriller with her first novel. She’s landed, quite accurately, on the idea that our destruction probably won’t be one of the many factors we are already aware of, but something completely unexpected.
This feeling of unpreparedness, alongside a distinct lack of understanding (no explanation is ever found for the earth’s slowing), and thus control, adds up to a pretty frightening future. The earth turning is something we do not question. This makes it perfect for Thompson Walker to play with – if this, then what else could we be wrong about?
It also helps that the threat itself is barely visible – like the best horror movies are the ones where you never come face to face with the villain, scary phenomena are scariest when they are unknowable and intangible.
Written from the point of view of an eleven-year old girl, the story is more self-absorbed than traditional sci-fi novels – and the book reads more about coming of age and the loneliness of adolescence, the quiet breakdowns of everyday life that would have happened with or without the earth’s slowing.
Sometimes Thompson Walker hints at the darker implications of longer days and nights, but these only fit into a kind of background of unease. For Julia, the pain of your best friend icing you out, bus-stop bullying and first crushes almost eclipse the strangeness of her new reality.
It’s a lovely book, despite it’s horrifying theme. The Age of Miracles manages to portray normal life in an extraordinary time.