readingtrance

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,’ (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) 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 (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) 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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