Title: “All the Birds in the Sky”
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Year of Publication: 2016
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Summary: Patricia can talk to birds and other animals. Laurence is a technological genius, creating a time machine device, but is limited to only jumping two seconds into the future. These are the main, quirky characters we are introduced to in Charlie Jane Anders’ novel All the Birds in the Sky. In this novel, Anders’ treads a fine line between science fiction and fantasy as she pits scientific innovation against the unknown laws and properties of magic.
Patricia comes to find at a young age that she has the ability to talk to animals, but she takes a while to find out what else she has the ability to do. The day that she finds out she can speak to animals, she stumbles upon a gathering of birds deep in a forest behind her house. She realizes that she is meant to be here, but she isn’t sure why and she tries to get answers from the birds themselves who make things even more confusing by telling Patricia that in order to get the answers she’s looking for, she needs to ask the right questions.
Laurence grows up in a pretty strict household where his computer and technological smarts are not encouraged and/or celebrated, although they would be by any parent today. He is sent away to boarding school by his parents, where he doesn’t quite fit in right away. But, he is saved by Patricia as she begins to learn more about her abilities.
As they become friends at school, Patricia is confronted by a school counselor who wants Patricia to kill Laurence, putting her in a situation where she doesn’t quite know who to trust anymore. The counselor seems to be a part of a secret/dangerous organization that has Patricia worried about who to trust.
The two grow apart after school but reconnect in their mid-20’s, and kindle something more. Each of them are rising in their respective communities/industries, and unfortunate circumstances tend to make them drift apart. But even more unfortunate circumstances bring them back together, but this time more as foes than as friends.
Patricia, now very powerful in her magical society, destroys everything Laurence has worked his whole life towards and is caught doing so. Devastated, Laurence continues through life hating the women he once loved.
You’ll have to read to find out what happens at the end.
TL; DR: Two outcast childhood friends grow together, then apart, then together, then apart again as they both realize their human potentials on opposite sides (science versus magic) of an oncoming natural apocalyptic scenarios threatening to end their world.
Verdict: A generally enjoyable read that isn’t as original as it wants to be.