Julia receives one last e-mail from Seth after his reaching Mexico, but soon after, America is hit by a hour power failure due to excessive electricity used to artificially grow crops.
Subsequently, the government allows electricity use only for life-supporting activities. Julia is never able to reach Seth despite several letters to an address he left her. The last chapter skips to years ahead. By this time, a day stretches to weeks and the human race will soon become extinct.
The government launches The Explorer, a spaceship that contains memoirs of life on Earth. Julia reveals that she never heard from Seth since the last e-mail but still maintains hope that they will be reunited one day.
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The book ends with her reminiscing about the words she and Seth had written on wet cement one summer day: "We were here". The Age of Miracles received mostly positive reviews from critics. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times hailed the book as a "clever mash-up of disaster epic with sensitive young-adult, coming-of-age story" despite noting its "made-for-Hollywood slickness" and some wayward plot developments.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see The Age of Miracles disambiguation. The New York Times.
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The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
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The Age of Miracles
Radiation floods the earth's atmosphere, and the magnetic field of the planet is affected. Food supplies start to become scarce, with even the most common fruits becoming exotic delicacies before they disappear entirely. As disasters multiply, it becomes clear that humans are living on borrowed time. In the midst of this, Julia is buffeted with the angst of emerging adolescence, which is amplified as a result of the "slowing.
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Fear drives a rift between her parents and raises the possibility of divorce. But the terror of the slowing has an additional effect: it intensifies Julia's connection with Seth, the classmate with whom she has fallen in love.
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In her debut novel, Karen Thompson Walker constructs a believable alternate reality in which every detail is accounted for, from the food sources of the irrevocably damaged earth to the societal conflicts that inevitably erupt worldwide. In particular, the conflicts exhibited between those who keep "clock time" -- the same timetable as ever, regardless of the earth's rotation -- and those who insist on adhering to a life in sync with the sun, is clearly relevant to any discussion of bigotry.
Equally realistic is the depiction of people's stubborn clinging to the rituals of ordinary life in the face of bizarre conditions, even certain death.
As the slowing progresses, Julia continues to go to school, and even plans to go to college, despite all evidence pointing to its being useless. Through the imposition of "clock time," the government attempts to preserve the illusion that life is continuing as usual.
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Even the demonization of people who refuse to keep "clock time" represents a conflict between those who seek to deny the terrifying reality, and those who wish to feel more at ease through the acceptance of it. The Age of Miracles may be most remarkable for what it does not do: it does not extend any hope. The darkness only increases until at last, we bid goodbye to Julia as she stands clear-eyed on the precipice of the end of all things.
For an interview with the author and an extended review, go to Shelf Awareness.