I’m not sure why I find dystopic novels and movies so compelling. When I ponder the reasons why I want to know what it’s like to live in a world that is the opposite of utopia, where everything familiar is inverted and what you used to love about living is gone, I can only imagine it’s because I want to see if we change for the worse when circumstances do. I guess I want to believe that even when the horizon looks hopeless, resiliency, compassion, and love still rise up out of our souls, despite everything.
This must be why I read Karen Thompson Walker’s Age of Miracles in two days when I was crazy busy. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, and when I was done, I was still thinking about it. Even a week later I still find myself grateful for simple things like fresh grapes, twilight, the sun on my skin, Jupiter’s shimmering presence in the night sky, birds, gravity, and the steady circle our planet makes without us even feeling its movement beneath our feet. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone — or until you read a book that whisks you away to the place where the awful subtraction begins.
Here’s the premise for the book: “On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.”
The story is about the people, to be sure, not the planet. It is as compelling a read as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Hollywood’s, The Book of Eli. If you want the fairy tale ending, you might want to stick to fairy tales. But if you want to imagine what it would be like – what you would be like – in a world where everything material is disappearing, then pick this one up.
You will be glad there is a Creator who holds the world in his hands.