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

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“We don’t need better emotional communication from machines. We need people to have more empathy. The reason the Uncanny Valley exists is because humans created it to put other people into. It’s how we justify killing each other.”

I picked this one up from my library at school. Normally, they aren’t too good at having fun free-reading books. It’s normally all military related or academic. When I saw All The Birds in the Sky, I was very excited because it was on my to-read list. Man, it was so not what I was expecting.

My Rating: B+

Goodreads Synopsis: 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: Typically, the books about the apocalypse go something like, “Chosen one takes on evil bad guy in order to prevent doomsday”, but this one is completely different. It’s about the battle between magic and technology and what happens when they collide. There is a clear divide in both sides and their methods of trying to save the world. Many of the arguments are a “greatest good for the greatest number” vs. “the natural order of how things should be”. While both are very intelligent people, they are influenced  very heavily by those around them, which leads to a lot of problems.

What I Liked: The characters relationships seem very real. There is a variety of characters and none are Mary-Sues, they all are a little off their rocker honestly. I think that the writing style was beautiful. The fact that this novel was so different from anything else I’ve ever read made it likeable in general. I can’t even tell you what genre I would put this in because it covers so many bases. It starts out with the two ain characters Patricia, a witch, and Lawrence, a genius, as children and the founding of their relationship. Both are bullied and picked on in the way that middle school is. Then it jumps to when they are both Adults meeting again, both involved in trying to save the world, but so unsure of themselves and their role in all of this. Their vulnerability is captivating at parts of this novel.

I was also really intrigued by the battle between nature and machines. It comes down to a question of is the apocalypse is coming, do we just save the human race? Or the whole planet? The animals? Do we abandon ship? Very interesting.

What I Disliked: The characters are almost child-like. It felt like they didn’t have a back bone and could be pushed around so easily. They don’t have the typical heroic bravery that most protagonists tend to have. Sometimes the plot jumps around or doesn’t cover al the bases leaving the reader feeling unsatisfied. It will be interesting to see if more people try to write this style of book and how they compare.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, This will be right up your ally.

Is this book on your to-read list? Who is the real champion, nature or machines?

-Leah

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