Review – All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders

Another W2RW knocked out of the park! If you’re interested in reading my ramblings about why I wanted to read this you can click here. If you’re just trying to find out what I thought of it..well keep reading friend.

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 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.

Well I can see why some people find this book too darned confusing. I myself was pretty darn confused at times. What I think Anders was doing was trying to merge the two worlds of Sci-fi and fantasy, which I applaud. But there is a reason I have always felt like these two categories should be categories in their own right rather than being lumped together in bookshops. Sometimes things can get confusing!

I will preface all the criticism I can feel that I am about to make with the proviso that I did actually enjoy this book. I think that the plot is new and unexpected, that the characters are interesting and that the more racy parts are well considered and don’t linger for long enough that I get uncomfortable. What I’m saying is you won’t regret reading this book, in fact it’s quite a good exercise to do so. But here are some things to keep in mind…

At no point is it clear what kind of world this is in relation to reality. Is this meant to be an alternate vision of modern day earth? Is this supposed to be the future? Are we talking a post-post apocalyptic future? As far as I can tell the book never really explains it (and if it does then it did not do a good enough job because I am still confused.)

The elements of sci-fi and magic never quite gel together. I suppose this was sort of deliberate and tied into the point Anders was making. But if someone pitches a combo of sci-fi and fantasy to me I expect cool techno witches, not certain scientific things being fixed by a form of magic that isn’t entirely thought out as a system. Maybe the problem is I’ve always been more of a fantasy fan than sci-fi but this did feel a bit as though it was a fantasy element tacked onto a sci-fi plotline? You probably could have done without it and had a pretty decent story.

But perhaps I’m just nit picking because I don’t like not feeling smarter than the book? Maybe the confusion and the lack of cohesion were very deliberate attempts to push the reader out of their comfort zone. Or maybe I’m still trying to find too much meaning where there is none, like an A level Englisb student struggling to meet their word count on some coursework.

In summary, this was…the nicest word I can say is interesting…this was an interesting read. If you happen to come across a copy I think you might benefit from having it as a reference, but don’t waste your money, buy a full-on fantasy book instead and lose yourself in a magical forest. Now! I command it!

My rating: 4/5 stars (Maybe 3.5/5)



8 thoughts on “Review – All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders

Add yours

  1. I loved that she tried to blend the two genres, but I felt like it could have been done a little better. I have to say that I much preferred their story as kids rather than as adults — it was just so much more fun and interesting!

    I liked this book, but didn’t love it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after I read it, which is a great thing, but I was just a little disappointed.

    Liked by 1 person

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