ARC Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Written by: Charlie Jane Anders
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 320, hardcover
Series: standalone
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Thank you to Tor Books for the ARC!

BookFrom the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

LetsTalk

I picked All the Birds in the Sky up quite randomly at ALA and I had no idea what to expect. This turned out to be a good thing, because All the Birds in the Sky is the kind of book that defies expectations.

All the Birds in the Sky follows Patricia, a powerful witch, and Lawrence, an engineering genius, through their terrible childhoods, and when they reunite ten years later and are trying to save the world in their very different ways. It’s a pretty cool book. There’s magic and science. There’s the apocalypse. There’s Terry-Pratchett-esque humor. There are talking birds. There’s the Power of Friendship. What more could you want?

I was just impressed by how many ideas the author was able to put into the book without it ever feeling cluttered. The story is so complex, but everything fits together seamlessly. Charlie Jane Anders combines fantasy and science fiction to create a truly unique world, while addressing many things that are relevant to the world as it is today. The result is a story that is both global and personal, both funny and heartwrenching, and ultimately hopeful.

Didn'tWork

The ending felt a little abrupt to me. After how big the crisis seemed, I thought it was resolved a little too fast. Or maybe that was just me wanting more pages. The story can also be a bit info-dumpy and hard to follow sometimes.

This wasn’t an issue for me, but some people might find the change in tone from the first half of the book to the second half a bit strange.

DidWork

Patricia and Laurence! The personal struggles they went through felt very real and will probably be relevant to a lot of twenty-somethings reading the book. (Well, except for the magic and the scientific genius and the end of the world. You know what I mean.) They both try to do the right thing in their own way, and they both mess up sometimes. The contrast between them made their dynamic engaging, and the way their relationship built, even through their conflict, from a childhood friendship to the awkwardness of their first reunion to what they had at the end of the book, was the emotional high point of the story.

The combination of sci-fi and fantasy. I always enjoy books that mess around a little bit with genre, and Charlie Jane Anders did a great job creating a world where they co-existed and sometimes conflicted and sometimes complemented each other. It gave the book a unique flavor that I appreciated.

San Francisco! Sorry, but I’m always biased towards books that take place in my city, even partially.

The humor. This book was very self-aware without being over the top about it. And of course, the humor is combined with genuine emotion and the occasional heartbreaking moment, making it even more effective.

 

PickupDefinitely pick this one up! It’s a complex, unique story with characters who feel real and vulnerable and who develop beautifully, an effortless combination of genres, and just the right balance of humor and heart.

Polina 

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