The very next morning from that previous post, I did indeed find Jo Walton’s novel waiting. I probably shouldn’t have let myself crack it open, because I’m already more than halfway done, and meanwhile I’ve left off other books I’ve been struggling to finish for awhile. Sometimes books can be hard work to get through and still be worth the effort, but there’s a heck of a lot to be said for something which is simply and only a pleasure and a joy to read, as Among Others is.
Think of Dan Brown. Most of the literati I know turn up their nose at The Da Vinci Code, but even if there isn’t much depth, writing a truly effective thriller like that, the consummate page-turner, requires a certain degree of technical skill that you don’t see that often. After all, even those “serious writers” would surely make their work as readable as possible (we’ll leave out the intentionally obfuscatory post-modernists and poets and essayists). Brown does one thing — suspense and climactic build-up — really well, and while his writing isn’t as smart as, say Ludlum’s, he still chose the write genre to let his light shine.
Just to clarify, Among Others is neither a thriller, nor is it shallow. It draws the reader in more via investment in the characters than a mile-a-minute plot. But it’s very readable, just the same. Definitely one of the best works of fiction I’ve read this year.