Hugo nomination read: Among Others

It’s good to start my Hugo reading with a fantastic novel. If the other works are anything like the quality of this one then I’ve got a fun few months coming up.

Among Others – Jo Walton

I picked this up a couple of weeks before the Hugo nominations were announced as a result of the discussions around what works were eligible. It sounded interesting and just my kind of thing so it was great to see that it was on the Hugo list so I didn’t need to put it aside. I can honestly say that I loved it and it has gone onto my “top reads of 2012” list. There was so much to like. It is told as the journal of a girl who has run away from her mother and social services have placed her with her father, who sends her away to boarding school. From the beginning we know that something terrible happened that killed the girl’s twin and left her with a crippled leg, but we pick up as she starts at school so most of it has happened ‘off stage’. A lot of the intrigue comes from trying to piece together the hints and brief mentions in her journal to work out what happened and what *really* happened.

Mor is a sympathetic character and a huge reader. With her leg putting her out of commission for many school activities she has lots of time for books and one of the things that I loved about this book was Mor’s thoughts on what she’s reading. The book is set in 1979/1980 and she reads primarily SFF, so some of the things that she reads and discusses are familiar and some are books and authors that are classics of the genre that I haven’t got around to yet. I’d love to find a list of all the book references in this so that I can read them all and then re-read Among Others.

There are hints of magic and the development of thoughts on responsible magic-usage, which is where the SFF angle plays in, but because we see everything from Mor’s point of view I was always wondering whether the magic was real or a coping mechanism. It added an extra layer to the story and kept me thinking long after I put it down at night.

Despite the journal format, there are some great secondary characters that are developed nicely. Mor’s thoughts on the world and people around her are fascinating. It’s a book that I think is going to stand up to re-reading and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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