book reviews by Althea

*** All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders

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All the Birds in the Sky
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book club selection for this month.

As I started this, I wasn’t sure if Anders’ sense of humor was going to gel with mine, but after a bit, I actually really got into it. Actually, it might’ve been my favorite part of the book: lighthearted portrayals of over-the-top awfulness that although on one level absurd, on another level ring heartbreakingly true.

The first part of the book reminded me in feel of Jo Walton’s ‘Among Others,’ (…) both in its portrayal of nerdy childhood and in the general feel of the writing. We meet two kids who become best friends in school. One has had a bizarre experience involving talking birds who told her that she is a witch whose destiny in to serve Nature. But after that one night, she’s never recaptured that magic. Was it a dream or a hallucination? She certainly doesn’t seem ‘special’ in other ways.
Her best friend, on the other hand, is something of a math/engineering genius. Although they’re both a bit outcast, the things he can do are tangible, whether it’s building a two-second time machine, or programming an AI.

The narrative jumps a bit abruptly to the second part, ten years later. The friends have been out of touch for a decade, until they unexpectedly meet at a party. He’s now a high-profile, PR-loving tech entrepreneur with dreams of saving the world. And she? Well, what she does is secret. Will their chance encounter re-start their friendship? Or will they become arch-nemeses?
This second part of the book reminded me more of The Rook (…) but could also draw comparisons to other tales involving secret societies and special powers.

Overall, I thought the book had a bit of unevenness and places where it didn’t quite fully develop the potential of the ideas, but overall it was quite enjoyable.
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