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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 11, 2012
A marvelous affirmation of the transformative power of literature in the education of anyone, not merely the adolescent protagonist of this novel, "Among Others" is a beautifully rendered celebration of fantasy and science fiction as literature, worthy of recognition by a readership that should extend far beyond the typical audiences for fantasy and science fiction. If you love books, if you understand how they can inspire you and sustain you, then you have to read "Among Others", since it is not merely a most affectionate love letter for those who admire greatly both fantasy and science fiction. Walton's novel is also an enchanting coming-of-age story, demonstrating how her protagonist, Morwenna Phelps, finds refuge in the power of the written word and in an expanding social network of like-minded fans of fantasy and science fiction; a saga which should resonate strongly with anyone who began loving great literature in their youth. The more magical aspects of "Among Others" should not deter potential mainstream fiction readers, especially those familiar with the more fantastical elements of Jonathan Lethem's "The Fortress of Solitude" or Pete Hamill's "Snow in August". While delving into the make-believe worlds conjured by the likes of Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Silverberg, and J. R. R. Tolkien, Morwenna also tempts fate by performing magic in her English boarding school, plunging unexpectedly towards an emotionally charged climax in which she must confront both her own destiny and her half-crazed magician mother's. This beautifully written ode to fantasy and science fiction is destined to be remembered as a classic work of fantasy and realism, admired and cherished by readers for generations.
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There are few books that I can close and say with certainty that they have an assured place on my bookshelf for the foreseeable future. This was absolutely one of those books.

Among Others is the fantasy tale for realists, a story for storytellers, and a companion for those who were bibliophiles and loners through their childhoods. This is a book that not only makes you wish that it didn't end so that you could keep on reading, but also makes you want to pick up every single other book mentioned within its pages so that you can read them all, too.

And believe me, there are a lot of them!

I loved how magic worked in this book. Not in big loud flashy ways but in all the subtle ways that make the world work, the ways that reach out and back and connect everything to everything else, and where the real trick is in believe it and knowing it for what it is.

That interconnectivity is what made this book truly amazing. We come in not at the beginning or end of a story, but somewhere in the middle, because the story is life. At times, it felt like a wonderful homage to all those who ever put down a story and wanted to know more about what happened later, because the bulk of the action, the powerful event that shaped lives, happened before Mori starts telling her tale in the first place. But there was still the connection to it. As was there also the connection of the end, the fall of Liz and the events surrounding it, to the very beginning when Mori dropped that first flower in the water and set magic in motion. It was gratifying to see that.

Also interesting was the way the story was told as though reading Mori's diary. Which meant that in addition to the big events that you expect in fantasy, like magic and fairies and all the supernatural elements, you also get a focus on school and growing up and personal likes and dislikes. These things are just as important to the main character as they would be to anyone who can do magic and yet who still is forced to live in the real world, with all its mundane troubles and trials. A good balance was struck.

Ultimately, I think that anyone who passes over this book is going to sorely miss out, because what Walton does here is profound, powerful, and deeply affecting. More than just creating a good story, more than just making a character who can be related to, more than striking that balance between the mundane and the supernatural (or rather, the natural, if you want to look at it that way), all of these things combined to make something that I think is greater than the sum of its parts. This is truly a novel not to be missed.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon February 7, 2011
There are books one reads, and books one falls into; Mori, Jo Walton's 15-year-old protagonist in "Among Others," knows this because almost the only way she can relate to other people, or life, or anything, is through the books she reads and falls into. "Lord of the Rings" is her top example, of course, but she loves anything science-fictional or fantastical in particular, with historical drama not too far behind. Oh, and she can see and communicate with fairies. It's late 1979/early 1980, and Mori is adrift - her identical twin sister Mor is dead and she herself is crippled by the same cause, and she has been sent from her home in Wales to a girl's boarding school in England, where, knowing that she'll never fit in, she sensibly uses her otherness to make most of her classmates afraid of her, thereby most likely to leave her alone. But she's lonely, and misses her family back home (especially her dead sister), and she misses running and being whole. When she finds a small science fiction book-reading club in the small town in which her school is situated, she hopes she's found her karass, her group of true friends who share her passions. But there's still the threat of her mother, the witch who caused all this upheaval and pain....I fell into "Among Others" even as I was never certain, not until the very end, if Mori was truly the surviving half of a twinship, a girl who could see fairies and make magic (but a very special sort of magic, one with complete deniability) and a young woman threatened by an insane and evil mother, or if she was entirely delusional. Charles deLint, in his review of this novel in Fantasy & Science Fiction (Jan/Feb 2011 edition), describes it as having jumped onto his "short list of favorite books ever," and I agree - this is realistic YA fantasy, at its best. I want the world to be like this. Simply stunning.
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on January 26, 2015
Having been a very similar st geek teen to Mori, the main character, I felt in some ways I was reliving my teen years. Like Mori finding a peer group of you are in this group was really difficult in the 70 s when I grew up. And I don't see it looking that much easier now, except for the gamers who often embrace similar leanings.

I still believe in magic and in a dimension of natural beings we are sometimes able to glimpse.

I would highly recommend this book to teens or even preteen readers. It sensitively covers many issues of the age group that are universally true, now or in the 70s, in Britain or Canada. I happened to live both places as a teen so can really relate.

I love the reading list provided by Jo Walton as part of her book and even found a few new authors, always a pleasure for us die hard fans of the genre.

Thanks for those Jo!
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on January 14, 2016
I'll start by mentioning that this book is not my usual kind of book and that it was selected by my book club. I'm a big fan of Fantasy (mostly urban) and thought that the magic element would make it right up my alley. This book was a real disappointment since nothing happens in it! Over 300 pages of this girl we know nothing about except for her love of books and her constant mention of them (most I haven't read) and endless internal dialogue on school life. There is barely any magic involved, there is a talk of a great battle that took place with her "witch" mother but it's only talked about in a detached way. Every character is superficial and in the end completely irrelevant as they bring nothing to Mori's story. This was a hard book to finish, read the blurb and then read the 4 last pages and you'll have a better experience than reading the whole book.
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on April 21, 2015
Now wonder this novel has won some award, it is so well written, it is a novel for serious readers, by that I mean that you not only search for a good plot, but a novel that makes you discover how you can create a chef-d'oeuvre with a story and the language you master well to tell that story... yes, great book... thank you Jo Walton, from Clo in Beauce, Canada
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on March 22, 2016
I loved this book. It is a coming of age story told by a young girl who is a book geek - a science fiction book geek. She is awkward, defensive, but clear -sighted too. She navigates a challenging family situation, a boarding school, and a first crush with honesty, humour and an odd optimism. A treat to read.
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on April 21, 2013
While I enjoyed the book, I had the feeling this should be a series, with a book before and a book after. I was missing input of what happened before, and would like to know how the story ended.
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on August 22, 2013
Very well written and organized using some very original themes and ideas. Delightful. Extremely engaging in an unusual way. Read if especially if you like mentally stimulating books.
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on November 20, 2015
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