'Among Others' is the story of a teenage girl from Wales called Morwenna Phelps, or Mori for short. Mori is no ordinary teenager, she and her twin sister Mor are able to see fairies and use magic, like their mother. Except their mother is evil and the twins decide they must stop her at all costs. In their attempt to stop her however, Mor was killed and Mori is left with a crippling injury in her leg that forces her to use a cane. Mori flees Wales to find her father who left when she was a baby, and 'Among Others' tells Moris tale after this, as she's sent to boarding school and attempts to deal with the magic, but also to come to terms with Mor's death.
'Among Others' is an interesting book. It's told from Mori's perspective through diary entries, and I think style really works to tell Mori's story as months pass in the novel and both her daily activities and her thoughts are recorded.
For the most part the book is your average, teenage boarding school story, detailing life at Arlinghurst (the school) and when Mori comes home for the holidays and such, as well as the usual teen dramas that come with it (eg. boys). But woven throughout is magic, and Mori spends a great deal of time wondering about magic and it's effects. Walton uses a different kind of magic system in this book which is really intriguing, whereby there's no magic spells or incantations, and things don't just magically happen, but rather events conspire to make things happen. For example, she might use magic to make a bus come around the corner when she wants it to, but events along the way will make the bus come at that time, if you get what I mean. It's more coincidental magic really. I couldn't decide however if the magic and the fairies that Mori spends so much time talking about would end up being real or not, and if I wanted them to be real or not.
Mori herself is an interesting character, but I just couldn't really get behind her or like her too much. On the one hand she is incredibly independant and strong-willed, and I love her story. But on the other hand, she just seemed really childish to me a lot of the time, but other times would suddenly grow up and be a teenage girl before reverting to her more child-like persona. I mean, she spends a lot of time thinking fairies and the way writes and the things that happen to her made me think of her as being no older than like 12. But then later on she reminds the reader that she's 15 and I just don't quite remember being like that at 15. And there are moments when she is shown to definately be this grown up 15 year old, doing things
with boys (or at least thinking about it). Sometimes it was really disconcerting, for example at one point like halfway through the book she was thinking her usual thoughts about magic and stuff, then all of a sudden just off-handedly mentions that she then masturbated while thinking about a boy, and I just read it and was like, "wtf?!". It was just jarring.
But on the other hand, over the course of the book, Mori does grow up. This book is another one of those books which is essentially a 'coming of age' tale. And I feel that the more adult Mori seems to be more present in the latter half of the book, which I suppose reflects her personal journey which sees her growing up and accepting Mor's death.
I found it quite hard to get really into the book however, or feel gripped to know what was going to happen next, and I do think that some threads were kinda left abandoned at the end (although some were really quite unimportant overall), and that the ending part was really rushed. I mean, I can see how we're supposed to think that Mori just carried on living and that some stuff would carry on after the books ended, but it all just seemed a bit rushed and over quickly and in a bit of a cliched manner.
Mori also spends a lot of time reading science fiction books and talking about them, and while that was nice and interesting, I felt Walton made a lot of references to science fiction texts and stuff, and it sometimes felt that the reader might be missing out on something if they hadn't read all or most of the hundreds of books mentioned, although it would make a good list of books for anyone wanting to read more science fiction/fantasy! I did like the irony that Mori hates fantasy books, and yet that's what her story is basically.
Okay, I seem to have rambled a lot!
Overall, I thought the book was interesting, and got more interesting as it went along, but I felt that there was just something missing from it and Mori could be quite jarring personality wise at times. I felt that the main plotline got quite buried, and it was only at the end really that I was able to go "Oh, it was about her growing up and dealing with Mor's death" which I feel should maybe have been more obvious earlier on, but looking back I can see hints of it earlier on. Overall, a good book, but not great.