Take A Peek Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

All the Birds



(via Goodreads)

From 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.


My Thoughts:

What a weird and wonderful book!

All the Birds in the Sky mashes together magic and crazy science to create a whole that’s odd and unique and utterly engaging. We first meet the lead characters Patricia and Laurence as outcast kids — bullied, friendless, and with home lives that just scream abuse. When they finally meet, they provide each other with refuge and support, but ultimately part ways until a seemingly random reconnection as adults.

The story switches perspectives between both characters, showing us the life of Patricia the witch, cursing and healing people, always being cautioned against the #1 sin for witches, Aggrandizement… and Laurence, the genius mad scientist working on anti-gravity and the possible salvation — or destruction — of the planet.

The writing is often quite funny, although the subject matter can get pretty heavy, what with the impending end of the world and all. The witches and the scientists have plans to save everyone, but each plan may also bring the apocalypse. Patricia and Laurence battle their own factions as well as each others’ in order to avert disaster, even while dealing with their own inner turmoil and competing interests and emotions.

This book truly brings together science fiction and fantasy in a way very few do. As the author said in an introduction to the book on the io9 website, “A young witch and a wild science genius—the characters in my new novel All the Birds in the Sky don’t even belong in the same book together.” Read more from this piece, here.

If you enjoy oddball fiction with a science-y, magical flair, check out All the Birds in the Sky!

PS – Bonus points to Charlie Jane Anders for making excellent use of San Francisco — not just the obvious tourist attractions, but all the odd little corners and neighborhoods that make SF so SF!


The details:

Title: All the Birds in the Sky
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: January 26, 2016
Length: 316 pages
Genre: Science fiction/fantasy
Source: Purchased

2 thoughts on “Take A Peek Book Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book, Lisa, I’ve been curious about it for some time now but I wasn’t sure exactly why people were calling it unique and a mesh of genres–I guess it didn’t quite leap out at me when I first read the premise! But that’s cool that the sci-fi and fantasy elements really came together, I’ll have to keep a lookout for this book now 😀

    • Well, it’s funny, all the promos and reviews I’ve read point out how unique it is to have witchcraft and science mushed together, and I could swear that I’ve come across other books with that combination… but can’t actually think of any. 🙂

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