Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Title: All the Birds in the Sky
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
An ancient society of witches and a hipster technological startup go war as the world from tearing itself. To further complicate things, each of the groups’ most promising followers (Patricia, a brilliant witch and Laurence, an engineering “wunderkind”) may just be in love with each other.
As the battle between magic and science wages in San Francisco against the backdrop of international chaos, Laurence and Patricia are forced to choose sides. But their choices will determine the fate of the planet and all mankind.
In a fashion unique to Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky offers a humorous and, at times, heart-breaking exploration of growing up extraordinary in world filled with cruelty, scientific ingenuity, and magic.
Reviewed by: Katheryn J. Avila
Rating: 5 stars
I’m not even sure where to start with this book, but I’m going to try. So this was a surprise read for me, courtesy of my boyfriend – one of the few people capable of accurately picking out a book I’ll like. What’s funny is that, with a title like All the Birds in the Sky and that particular cover, I wouldn’t have bothered with the book’s blurb. It’s just not something that would have caught my attention, so I’m beyond glad that my boyfriend saw it and picked it out for me. Hands down it currently occupies the spot of “Favorite Book” in my heart. And that’s saying a lot. This book is the perfect blend of all things I love – science fiction/technology and fantasy/magic. Somehow, the author manages to blend these two things together so seamlessly, though they are at odds with each other in the story, that it felt like this world really could exist.
The writing itself is also incredible – from the way the characters are written to the actual writing style and voice of the book in general. It’s witty, funny, and refreshing – I’ve never read anything like it before. The protagonists, Patricia the witch and Laurence the tech wiz are so beautifully flawed and relatable. I found myself truly, deeply feeling for these characters – everything from anger at their actions to sadness for their pain. I didn’t want to put the book down, and would have devoured it in one sitting if I didn’t have to sleep and work. Though I was glad to realize that it’s a standalone book (I don’t like getting into super long series), I wouldn’t mind spending more time with both Patricia and Laurence.
For most of the story, magic and technology exist apart from each other, just as Patricia and Laurence lead separate lives, so it almost feels like you’re reading two separate stories that exist in the same universe. Still, it isn’t difficult to imagine both magic and sci-fi technology existing side by side in a world plagued by natural disasters and a dying planet. The backdrop for the story – the planet in chaos over environment issues – makes it even more realistic, despite the fantasy elements. All of this comes to a head at the end in a very satisfying way, and I won’t spoil it by going to much into it. Really, this is a book that can’t be explained (my boyfriend gave me looks as I gave him periodic updates). You have to experience it for yourself!