Jo Walton – Among Others

jo walton among others
Jo Walton – Among Others

Nachdem ihr Großvater, bei dem sie zuletzt lebte, einen Schlaganfall hatte, wird die 15-jährige Morganna, genannt Mori, zu ihrem Vater Daniel geschickt, den sie bis dato gar nicht kannte. Er und seine drei Halbschwestern entscheiden schnell, dass das Mädchen auf das Internat geschickt werden soll, das auch schon die Schwestern besucht hatten. Dort hält sie in einem Tagebuch ihre Erlebnisse fest. Sie ist anders als die Töchter reicher Eltern, hatte sie doch bis dato im ländlichen Wales gelebt, auch ihre Liebe zu Büchern, insbesondere Science-Fiction Romanen, kann sie mit niemandem teilen. Ebenso wenig die Tatsache, dass Magie einen wichtigen Platz in ihrem Leben einnimmt, die war es nämlich, die sie vor der bösen Mutter gerettet hat und was zu dem Unfall führte, bei dem ihre Zwillingsschwester Morwenna, ebenfalls Mori genannt, ums Leben kam und sie selbst an Hüfte und Bein schwer verletzt wurde. Mori lebt in ihrer eigenen Welt und der der Bücher, die sie in die Schulbibliothek, aber auch jene des kleinen Örtchens führen und unerwartet doch noch Seelenverwandte finden lassen.

Jo Waltons Roman, deutscher Titel: „In einer anderen Welt“, gewannt 2012 den Nebula Award, den Hugo Award sowie den British Fantasy Award als bestes Buch des Jahres. Für mich persönlich eine etwas irritierende Einordnung, denn ich hätte den Roman keineswegs als Fantasyroman bezeichnet, denn die Welt, in der Mori lebt, ist das typische Großbritannien des Jahres 1979. Lediglich ihr Glaube an Magie und Feen, mit denen sie sich auch unterhält, hebt sie von den anderen Jugendlichen ab. So wie Walton dies darstellt, hätte ich das Buch eher als magischen Realismus eingeordnet, vor allem, da immer wieder die Grenze zwischen psychisch gesund und krank verschwimmt und das Mädchen gerade hochtraumatische Erlebnisse hinter sich gebracht hat und völlig aus dem bekannten Leben geworfen wurde.

There are some awful things in the world, it’s true, but there are also some great books. When I grow up I would like to write something that someone could read sitting on a bench on a day that isn’t all that warm and they could sit reading it and totally forget where they were or what time it was so that they were more inside the book than inside their own head.

Trauer, Verlust, Ängste unterschiedlicher Art, fieses Mobbing, Umgehen mit einer sichtbaren Behinderung – Mori hat ein ordentliches Päckchen zu tragen und offenbar niemand, dem sie sich anvertrauen kann. Es bleibt ihr nur die Flucht in die Welt der Bücher, die ihr Sicherheit gibt und das reale Leben vergessen lässt.

Reading it is like being there. It’s like finding a magic spring in a desert. It has everything. (…) It is an oasis for the soul. Even now I can always retreat into Middle Earth and be happy. How can you compare anything to that?

Durch das Lesen, die Menschen, die sie in ihrem Buchclub kennenlernt und die langsame Annäherung an ihren Vater und den Großvater, findet sie zurück ins Leben. Es gibt immer noch Momente, die sie emotional überfordern und in denen sie sich von magischen Kräften bedroht fühlt – durch die eigene Mutter, die drei seltsamen Tanten – zunehmend gelingt es ihr aber auch, die Kontrolle darüber zu gewinnen.

Durchaus ein recht typischer coming-of-age Roman, der jedoch vor allem dann große Freude bereitet, wenn Mori ihre Gedanken über Bücher teilt, die sie regelrecht verschlingt. Tatsächlich hätte ich mir am Ende eine Liste mit allen Bücher, die erwähnt werden, gewünscht. Wundervoll erzählt, mit ganz viel Liebe zur Protagonistin und der Literatur, so dass man wirklich einmal abtauchen und aus der Wirklichkeit verschwinden kann.

Victoria Jenkins – The Argument

victoria-jenkins-the-argument
Victoria Jenkins – The Argument

Olivia is a typical 15-year-old girl who is fighting with her parents about going to parties, who is unsure of how to dress and how to behave in school and daydreaming about finally getting away from her family. Except she isn’t. Her life has two sides: on the outside, there is the loving mother in the caring home, on the inside, Olivia and her smaller sister Rosie grow up much more than overprotected. Their parents keep them away from the life outside their small home. They are allowed to school, but not much more. Never can they visit or invite friends, never can they really bond with anybody outside their family. When one evening Olivia sneaks out to go to a party, she sets in motion a series of events that will reveal much more about the family than just explain this very uncommon behaviour of the parents.

The story is told alternately from Olivia’s and her mother Hannah’s perspective. Quite cleverly, Victoria Jenkins first makes you believe in a fairly ordinary phase of rebellion of a teenager. Olivia behaves just like any other girl her age and seems to overdramatise her family life. Yet, slowly and almost unnoticed, something else creeps in and step by step, the image and idea you formed about the family shifts until you have to throw all your assumptions over board.

“The Argument” is a cleverly constructed psychological thriller which captivates the reader with the unexpected development of the characters. Both mother and daughter are actually equal protagonists, the age difference and uneven roles do not really make a difference. You focus on their subtle fight, the bits and pieces of their lives that lie beneath the surface and one after the other come out make them turn into realistic and multifaceted characters. While being occupied with the two women, you overlook the real danger and in the end, it is not easy to come to a final verdict on wrong-doings.

A spell-binding novel which does not offer the immediate thrill but which captivates you at a certain point and in the end, does not leave you without a melancholy feeling.

Claire Douglas – Do not Disturb

claire-douglas-do-not-disturb
Claire Douglas – Do Not Disturb

After her husband’s breakdown, Kirsty and her family move from London to Hywelphilly, a small village in Wales where they buy a guesthouse. After weeks of refurbishing, they look forward to welcoming the first guests, among them to Kirsty’s dislike her cousin Selena whom she hasn’t seen for more than sixteen years. They had been like sisters, but Selena’s constant lying lead to the inevitable break. Kirsty’s two daughters Evie and Amelia struggle with the move at first, but when Selena and her daughter Ruby arrive, the house awakes. The cousins manage to sort out their quarrels; yet, Kirsty cannot get rid of the feeling that Selena still does not tell her the complete truth. When Selena’s former boyfriend shows up to rent a room, the atmosphere gets tense and with the arrival of Kirsty’s brother and his wife, trouble is in the air. And then, the worst fears come true: Selena gets murdered.

I really liked the novel because Claire Douglas has well dosed the revelation of secrets the characters keep – and there are many of them. Everybody has something to hide, buried down in his or her mind, even the nice ones are not what they seem at the first glance. There is something mysterious about the house, the whispers of the village inhabitants add to this and many of the incidents are hard to make sense of.

The novel is told from Kirsty’s perspective, quite normally, you are biased in what she tells as you only get her limited point of view. On the other hand, this adds to the suspense and you can easily share her feeling of unease. To me, Kirsty is authentic in her action and in the way she tries to protect her family. Since it is not clear where the threat comes from, you suspiciously eye all the other characters simply to learn in the end that you were completely wrong. I absolutely liked that especially since the whole mystery is solved convincingly.

“Do not disturb” triggers the biggest fear: having evil in your own home, the place where you want to feel safe and secure and where you assume that also your children are protected. Many twists and turns and unexpected revelations keep suspense high throughout the novel, a mystery thriller just as it should be.