I wish I had read Jo Walton’s Among Others when I was a teenager. Since this novel wasn’t written until 2011, I couldn’t have that opportunity. It would have had a big impact on my life.
So I had to settle for reading it as an adult, but at least as an adult who knows a lot of teenagers. If you are now in your teens — or if you ever have been — and if you have ever felt that you are “among others,” you should read it too.
Among Others is the story of a 15-year-old Welsh girl who attends an English boarding school that is most definitely not Hogwarts. Mori is a science-fiction geek who loves books but attends a sports-oriented school. She believes in magic, but the school most definitely doesn’t, and it’s not much of a theme in the story. Although this book is a mainstream novel, Walton is primarily a science-fiction and fantasy writer, so her characterization of Mori’s deep knowledge and love of both genres is completely convincing. One reviewer characterized Among Others as “a love letter to librarians, to interlibrary loan, and to SF fandom,” all of which is true — although it barely scratches the surface. Mori is a stranger in a strange land…no, wait, that’s the wrong book. But it’s still true.
When you read Among Others, it will help if you’re familiar with Tolkien, LeGuin, Delany, and Heinlein, but it’s not necessary. The important thing is that “if you love books enough, books will love you back.”