Among Others was first published in 2011, and has won two awards – and yet reader reviews are varied. Having been sent a copy for review, I can see why. There’s a lot to love about this book, but also some aspects which can be annoying. I started off very unsure, but by the time I put it down, it had worked it’s magic on me, and left a smile on my face. It’s not the easiest to review, so please bear with me if I ramble around…
On it’s surface, Among Others tells the story of Mor, a fifteen year old whose twin sister was killed in the accident which has left Mor with an injured leg. Trying to get away from her mad mother, Mor ends up with her estranged father and her aunts, who send her away to boarding school. There, Mor deals with the grief of losing her sister, whilst accepting who she is, and the limitations she faces from her injuries. She discovers more about her family, and experiences her first relationships. Yes, on it’s surface, this is a coming of age novel, but there are some interesting twists.
Mor and her sister grew up seeing and playing with fairies, and her mother is a witch who tried to harm them. This gives a wonderful layer to the story, but is in no means the focus. This isn’t your traditional fantasy novel, full of other-worldly creatures and magical spells, and it’s quite possible that the fairies exist only in Mor’s mind – deciding which gives an interesting aspect, and readers will all have their own views.
The book itself is in a diary format, and runs over 300 pages in hardback and 400 in paperback. It’s a slow, mellow tale, just as you would expect from this format. To me, the first half was a little too slow, but then I’ve recently been reading some snappy YA novels, so this took some getting used to. There’s also a final aspect, which is both a positive and negative – Mor spends most of her time reading Science Fiction, and many of these books are mentioned and discussed. For fans of SF, I would imagine it would be fun spotting your own favourites, as well as checking out those new to you. For others, though, it becomes a little tedious, like being on the outside of a cliquey group. However, a book about a love of reading is always a bonus!
This is a book best approached with no expectations, and with plenty of time to give. If you allow it, it has much to give back.