March Bookclub Review: All the Birds in the Sky

Thursday 31 March 2016 by

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders, Titan Books, Book, Reading, #HoBBookclubAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Published by Titan Books

Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths… When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world-and live up to his reputation-in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments. As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.


It’s a bit of a shock to the system to switch from Dostoevsky to Charlie Jan Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky. But bear with it, because although you will start a bit discombobulated, you will get in to the swing of things very quickly.

I quite enjoyed reading about Laurence and Patricia – from their childhoods as pariahs, to their adulthoods struggling with the great responsibilities they set on themselves. I also enjoyed the very-near-future San Francisco that is painted – with sentient tablets and robots, magic and talking birds, and time machines and wormholes.

Remember Coldbrook? This reminds me a lot of that – with the style of writing and storytelling, but also with the near-future idea, and how the supernatural and science interacts. Laurence and Patricia are both trying to save the planet, using science and magic respectively, but with almost drastically different results.

You don’t have loyalty to either character, which helps – there is no right or wrong, and Anders plays the morality off against one another with stylish ease. But the best bit about the whole book is the humour. It is perfectly done – poking fun at itself as well as the whole situation. It takes the tropes of sci fi and fantasy and sends them up with tongue in cheek and great affection.

This is a brilliantly entertaining book. No great literary masterpiece (reading classics every month proves the point about how little there are out there), but enough to keep you gripped for a few days. And with the nice balance between peril and humour, it’s one of the better reads out there right now. The alternating chapters between the characters keep it fresh, and the double vision on some of the events makes it feel more realistic.

This is like a light-hearted TV show, with plenty of drama and romance. A supernatural soap opera but with a bit more substance. It’s a wonderful fusion of the many layers of geekery – as satisfying as a Gaiman book and as genre-bending as a good YA. In All the Birds in the Sky, the apocalypse is nigh, but that doesn’t stop the hipsters and their tablets. But frankly, if it’s the end of the world, you’re going to want to be partying with these guys.

What did you think of All the Birds in the Sky?

April’s House of Blog Bookclub is up for a vote. Pick what you want to read right here. Tweet your thoughts through the hashtag #HoBBookclub on Twitter or write on the wall on the House of Blog Facebook page.

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