Book Review: All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Title: All The Birds In The Sky

Author: Charlie Jane Anders

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magical Realism, Magic

Publisher: Tor Books

Published: January 26, 2016

Page Amount: 320 pages

Goodreads Summary: 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 of 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.

Why Read: On the train to Groningen to look at a new apartment, I happened to find All The Birds In The Sky in my backpack. I bought the book a few months ago on a science fiction reading expedition and I had been putting it off. While it sounded great to read, I wasn’t in the “mood” so I had put it off… and put it off again… until it finally felt like time to read. And actually – it was probably the high light of my weekend reading.

Review: Unexpectedly, I absolutely adored this book. I bought it originally because I love the idea of supporting women authors in science fiction, and the plot seemed alright. But after having sped through it, I am totally completely obsessed. It’s funny in the way that some books that combine magic and technology often are. Each new scene comes with new expectations on my part about how the two will combine. Every author has a new way of writing about techomagic – and this book did an absolutely spectacular job.

Another reason this book spoke to me was the character development. Patricia and Laurence start out as childhood friends but where they end up is completely and utterly divorced from the small school where they began. I loved how they each changed and adapted in their own worlds so that when they collide again – they barely recognize one another. That’s solid real-life talk about growing up apart.

A final important note – when I think back on the plot, I am reminded of a large spyglass that narrows in on different critical parts relevant to the plot. It might seem random, but each little piece comes together in ways that you wouldn’t expect. The book is magical, and my favorite thing about it? The way it’s written. I wasn’t expecting the novel to be particularly special in that regard – but the author has a way of writing that spoke to me. I found myself feeling touched by passages and even though the book is 100% insane, 100% ridiculous and funny with a whole lot of science fiction and fantasy – the tear-jerker moments are all the more tear-jerky because of it.

It’s a great book, maybe not for those who aren’t already big fantasy fans – but one of my year favorites by far.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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