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


Publisher: Titan Books
Release date: January 26, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 432
Goodreads || Book Depository

Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths.

When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world – and live up to his reputation – in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repairing the earth’s ever growing ailments.

As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.


4 stars

I don’t really know where to start with All the Birds in the Sky. It was strange and unique and I can’t neatly fit it into any one particular genre. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good because I thought it was incredibly quirky and unlike anything I’d read before.

This story is about magic and science and what happens when they interact. It’s set in the near future, in an apocalyptic setting where the world is about to self-destruct and our two main characters are on separate missions to save the future. But they have two very distinct ways of going about it. Laurence, a scientist and engineer is working to create a machine that will allow people to be transported to a different planet. His philosophy – and the philosophy of his fellow scientists – is that humanity doesn’t have to be tied to this particular rock in the universe. However, Patricia, a witch with a magical tie to nature, is determined to save the future by saving planet Earth and curing it of its ailments. As magic and science go to war, what will happen to the future?

But the story doesn’t begin there. The story begins more than a decade ago when Patricia was just a young girl discovering her magical abilities for the first time, and Laurence is a young boy who is obsessed with science and spaceships, and the inventor of a time machine that can propel him two seconds forward into the future. As they make their way through middle school as the misfits and are bullied by those who despise any kind of weirdness and unconformity, they gravitate towards each other and become the other’s only friend. The first half of All the Birds in the Sky is actually about Laurence and Patricia’s past. We spend a good amount of the book learning about their friendship as teenagers and how their connection and their story would later affect the future. This section of the book was probably my favourite (and this may partly be due to the fact that I read a lot of YA) because we really got to know the characters and what they represented… as well as what they meant to each other.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t love the rest of the book too. The second half of the book is about Laurence and Patricia reconnecting as adults, after having spent high school apart. In the first section of the book about their adulthood, we get to learn more about the upcoming apocalypse as well as who Laurence and Patricia are now as adults. I thought it set up the climax really well and I enjoyed the romance that was brewing between them. However, I did feel that there was a strange transition in the book where the romance and the plot of the book just kicked off without warning. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it because even though it felt really sudden, the whole book up until that point had been setting up for that moment. My main criticism of the plot would have to be that the last 50-70 pages of the book felt a little rushed and the ending slightly unresolved. But overall, I really enjoyed the entire story.

What I loved most about All the Birds in the Sky was the writing and the pacing of the book. I loved the third person omniscient narration in this book and I found the writing to be lyrical and beautiful. The book was quite slow-paced, especially in the first 3 parts of the book, and I thought that this added to the slightly magical feel of the story. I thought the format of the book worked really well and I enjoyed following Laurence and Patricia’s story from childhood into adulthood.

The writing and narration style also made it easy to connect with the characters. I absolutely loved Patricia and Laurence separately and together. They were both strange children who stood out too much for society’s liking. They’re bullied at school and are treated with almost no affection from their parents. But they were some of the most interesting and unique characters that I’ve read about and I really appreciated their quirkiness. Together, Patricia and Laurence were amazing. They became each other’s one and only friend in childhood and also had a wonderful connection in adulthood. ‘Friendship goals’ is all I can say.

This novel isn’t going to be for everyone. But I definitely enjoyed it. If you like slow-paced fantasy stories or magical realism stories, I think you might enjoy All the Birds in the Sky. I think it’s an adult fiction novel that would appeal to YA readers too.


17 thoughts on “Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

  1. Reg @ She Latitude says:

    This book sounds SO interesting – I love magic and when it’s combined with science like this, it seems like it’ll make for an interesting plot. I don’t think I’d mind a slow-paced fantasy because sometimes that’s necessary, but magical realism is a huge hit-or-miss for me. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it, though, and I hope I do too if/when I get to it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      The plot of this book was definitely interesting! I love reading about science and magic within one book and this didn’t disappoint. There were some parts of the book that were a bit slow and slightly confusing but overall, it was a really intriguing and compelling read. And the characters were just fantastic!


  2. hiraethforthepages says:

    Such a great review! I’ve seen this book around a little and I never knew what it was about – this sounds so interesting though! Definitely added to my TBR! I really want to get into more magical realism and this one sounds so great! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Georgiana Darcy says:

    Awesome review! The book sounds amazing and I’m very very very intrigued! The fact that we see two different prospectives such as magic and science is very smart! Can’t wait to read it, so adding it to my TBR shelf!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Valerie says:

    I definitely think I would enjoy this, gonna try to see if it’s at my library.

    I’m a huge fan of magical realism, and I love how this kind of mixes two genres together, young adult and adult, along with science fiction and fantasy. Also I’ve always been drawn to that cover. Basically this has everything going for me, and I can see myself liking this a lot.

    Awesome review Jenna!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Isn’t the cover just beautiful?! If I’m completely honest, this was first and foremost a cover-buy haha. I thought this book was soooo unique. The blending of different themes and genres makes it a really interesting and compelling read. I hope you can find it at your library because I thought it was wonderful!


  5. Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

    I’m sooo glad you liked this one Jenna. I’ve never heard of it until now, but I’m definitely intrigued. First of all, THAT COVER. Omigosh how gorgeous. And I loveeee the contrast between magical abilities and the invention of science. All of this sounds like something I would thoroughly enjoy, except for the unresolved ending. That doesn’t really sit well with me… but I bet reading the lyrical writing would be worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Omg the cover is A++++. Definitely my aesthetic! I preordered this one and I’m sad that I only got around to reading it now because I thought it was a super unique and interesting story. The combination of science and magic within the same book was right up my alley and it was really nicely executed too! And yes omg the writing is beautifulllll.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s