Author – Karen Thompson Walker
Published – 21 June 2012
Genre – Young adult / Science fiction
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for this review copy.
I was drawn to the premise of this book – that slowly, gradually, the earth has slowed and the days have gradually lengthened. The change has passed unnoticed until it’s announced that the night has grown by 56 minutes.
The story is told by eleven year old Julia, an only child and daughter of an obstetrician and a part-time teacher and former actress. Until the news of the change Julia’s only concerns have been school, soccer practice, and piano lessons. Suddenly her world is full of uncertainty.
The changes start off slowly – darker nights, hotter days, gradually increasing gravity, and these changes are the back-drop to Julia’s life at school. But the days keep getting longer and longer. People try to adapt, at first they change their activities to match the “time” or at least the light or dark, but then the decision is announced that the country will revert to a 24-hour clock. Then night and day are no longer tied to dark and light. Not everyone chooses to act as if nothing has happened and there are those who try carry on adapting to the days, “real-timers” and those who to build a life in “daylight colonies”. But society soon shuns those who don’t toe the accepted line.
But during all of this Julia’s story is also personal – the changes have implications for her family and her friends, as well as a budding romance.
I did enjoy the book and I liked the style of writing. It was an easy read and Julia is a likeable central character. If I have a criticism it’s that it didn’t feel like quite one thing or the other – it wasn’t quite a coming of age story but neither did it really explore the consequences of days that get longer and longer.
Perhaps it’s just my age, but Julia felt a little too old for her years – all I knew about boys at her age were that they were the opposite of girls. There’s something disconcerting about the way in which she tells the story when she obviously knows how it will end (“It was the last time I ever tasted a grape.”).
Interestingly the book made headline news in the publishing industry for the size of the deal to secure the rights to this debut. A great book for the beach or plane. You can see another review of this over at The Little Reader Library.
Score – 4/5