Summerbook #11: All the Birds in the Sky

 All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

I took this home because the inside cover had reviews that compared it to DWJ and Neil Gaiman.  It turned out to be a pretty good modern urban fantasy novel (and I don't mean 'urban fantasy' in the sense of 'werewolf romance').

Patricia and Laurence are both underdogs and social outcasts.  Their (improbably uninterested) parents don't understand them and usually do the opposite of what their kids need.  They're tormented at school and at home.  Patricia finds solace in nature, and is shaped by a strange encounter with a bird who speaks with her, while Laurence is a tech geek building an AI from discarded parts in his bedroom closet.  In junior high, they become friends, but social pressures and, eventually, parents make it increasingly difficult, until Patricia is whisked off to a school for magic users and Laurence finally makes it to the tech high school he's dreamed of.

Years later, their paths cross again in a San Francisco on the edge.  Laurence is a tech wunderkind working on anti-gravity, and Patricia is a trained witch who quietly fulfils assignments and heals things in general on the sly.  As they rekindle their friendship, they realize that while they're utter opposites on paper, they also just get each other on a deep level, and they could make a fantastic team.  And then a natural disaster strikes the East Coast, and each of their 'teams' call them to action.  Will a war between science and magic rip the world apart, or will these two manage to heal a rift that maybe shouldn't have developed in the first place?

It's a good story, set in a not-too-distant future that feels all too possible -- partly because Anders doesn't specify a lot, and just refers to 'shortages,' strange weather, or political problems in the background.  Laurence and Patricia are both interesting characters, though in my personal opinion their parents are overdone.  And the problems they face, the situations and other people -- great stuff.  For a while there it was difficult to keep going because everything was such a disaster, and I was tempted to just put the book down so I wouldn't have to find out, but I persevered, and was rewarded with a satisfying, well-constructed ending that brings everything around full circle.  So, recommended for urban fantasy readers!

Comments

  1. I really liked the collision of magic and science in this one.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, me too. That was my favorite element, for sure.

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