Rating: 3.5 / 5
ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders is a book I’ve had on my TBR for a while because the story sounded intriguing. The book follows two people from childhood, Patricia and Laurence, who are very different, but are drawn together by circumstances somewhat beyond their control.
Patricia learns at a very early age that she has a magical ability to speak with animals. While she isn’t able to entirely control her magic as a witch, she begins to figure it out as she gets older. She has a particular affinity for speaking with all the birds in the skies.
Laurence is a scientist, a boy capable of building fantastic machines including a two-second time machine that will allow you to skip forward in time by two seconds and an artificial intelligence that he hopes to one day be sentient. Laurence is the one person that Patricia reveals her magic too, but seeing her speak cat with her feline friend is a bit much for him to handle.
Both Patricia and Laurence struggle in life, they don’t fit in with their peers and their families really do not understand them. They form a friendship in their teens, but are torn apart. When they are reunited, Patricia is in full control of her magic, using it to help others under the radar. Laurence is working on devices to save the human race from the havoc it has created on the environment.
This is a very hard book to sum up. It crosses genres with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism. It is set in our world, but it isn’t clear if it is a very near future or an alternate reality altogether. Things like the two second time machine are treated as normal, acceptable things to be able to make and not a great achievement.
I really enjoyed this book for the most part, but did find myself losing track of the story line a few times as it jumped around in time a bit and between the science and magic threads. There were some elements that I had wished maybe were a little more clearly defined. I can definitely understand why this book has received the attention and awards that it has received and it is really well put together overall.
If you enjoy elements of sci-fi and fantasy or are looking for a book with some magical realism feel mixed with a science fiction story line, this is definitely a book you would want to pick up!