Adult · Charlie Jane Anders · Stand Alone

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

~Review~

I finished this book awhile ago and this is one of the most difficult reviews I have written. All the Birds In the Sky was one of the most peculiar books I have ever read and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. The plot was interesting, I liked the main characters, but the world-building was slightly off and there were a few problems with the organization of the writing, which caused some confusion. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the novel, will recommend it, and may end up reading it again despite my critical rating.

Plot

Apparently, this book is supposed to be about two people trying to save the world through different means but it felt more to me like this was just a character driven novel about love, friendship, and self-discovery with the whole “world is ending” thing as a driving force.

The story follows Patricia, a witch, and Laurence, a science genius, both of whom want to make the world a better place. Their story begins in middle school and since both of them are considered outcasts by their peers, they end up finding each other and becoming friendly. I say “friendly” because their relationship is a bit rocky. Eventually, certain events cause them to be separated from each other and it isn’t until ten years later when they finally see each other again. This is where the book gets a bit weird and just kind of jumps all over the place as the characters try to find their own way to save the world but just end up fighting each other instead. The magic users believe the scientists are trying to destroy the world and vise versa.

“You know… no matter what you do, people are going to expect you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re clever and lucky and work your butt off, then you get to be surrounded by people who expect you to be the person you wish you were.”

The first part of the book I found to be fairly interesting as we learn all about Laurence and Patricia; I just love character driven novels! It moves quite slowly but I thought this was a plus because we are allowed so much time to get to know each character.

For me anyway, this book was entirely unpredictable. I had no idea where this story was going to go and I don’t think there was one thing I figured out beforehand. I absolutely loved this about the book. Never knowing where it is going to go makes for the best read!

The one thing that bothered was the complexity of the novel. Usually, I like complex novels but this one was just a bit too confusing after the first half, and there were so many things crammed into it that we only get a little bit of everything instead of a few well-developed things.

World-Building

I love the idea of fantasy/sci-fi novels being set in our world and this is one of the few that I have read like this. I adored the world but felt like there was just too many slightly developed ideas instead of a few well-developed ones. For instance, there is a magic school that was just glossed over and rules that were not fully described, an assassin school and secret organization that was only briefly mentioned and maybe wasn’t even necessary for the novel, and some underdeveloped inter-dimensional/sciencey stuff that wasn’t well explained.

“Society is the choice between freedom on someone else’s terms and slavery on yours.”

Also, I’m not even sure why the world needed saving in the first place. Maybe I just didn’t understand the novel at all, it just wasn’t explained very well, or it was and I just missed it. As far as I know, Laurence and Patricia are the ones who destroy the world and they only end up trying to save it because Theodolphus told them that it was going to end. However, by trying to save it they are destroying it, so essentially if Theodolphus never mentioned it then the world would be fine.

I did like the invention of the “caddy” which is like a super smart cell-phone! Otherwise, there wasn’t much else since it is set in Los Angeles (I think).

Characters

I loved Patricia and Laurence. They were both well-developed and had different lives and personalities. I feel like anyone could relate to at least one of them. I thought Patricia was actually really strange and that just helped to add to her personality. The only problem I had with them is towards the end of the novel when they are supposed to be adults and it just didn’t feel like they were. They felt more like teenagers to me.

The secondary characters I didn’t like all that much and the majority of them had little to no purpose in being in the novel other than acting as a filler. Except for Theodolphus, I had such a hard time remembering the other characters when they would make another appearance. They just weren’t distinct, well-developed, or interesting. Theodolphus was just strange and sometimes acted like a child. I was a bit confused with his character.

Writing

I loved the writing style; however, I do have a couple of problems and I feel like they should be discussed here. I think it was more of a writing problem rather than a plot issue; this also doesn’t happen often, so I don’t have this included in my rating system but will be marking this down a point for the following reasons.

“Self-awareness paradoxically requires an awareness of the other.”

I hated how each chapter just jumped from character to character. I thought a novel like this should be more character focused, alternating between Patricia and Laurence’s view-points. Instead, I was confused part of the time trying to figure out who the story shifted to discussing. Also, there was an issue with time jumps! Passage of time was not described well at all and years or months could go by and I just had to try to figure out myself how long it had been between chapters. It wouldn’t take much to say “ten years later” or “two months later” or even “5 days ago” at the start of the chapter. It would have been so much more organized, especially because time would go both directions between chapters.

Cover

It’s absolutely gorgeous!, but what is with the blurb! AHHHH! The back is filled with them so why does there need to be one on the front????

~Review Spotlight~

Across the Words       Civilian Reader

Kurobana Book Blog       The Fault In Our Blogs

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