All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Method of Consumption: Paperback
Book Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
This novel transcends audiences and genres in a completely unexpected way, making me love it for its quirky randomness. However, it is clear that my opinion is somewhat controversial, since the Goodreads rating for this book is only 3.57/5.0. I read All the Birds in the Sky for a book club pick, and I went into it knowing absolutely nothing (as I usually like to do with my reads).
When the book first began, following the story of two young children, a witch named Patricia and Laurence, a computer nerd, I thought I was reading confused middle grade fiction that couldn’t decide if it was fantasy or sci-fi. As the story progressed, and the two main characters grew, it became clear to me that this could not possibly be written for children, when elements of a sweet little love story (and a bit of bad language) shone through. I decided it must belong in the young adult category. Until… I started reading about themes and issues that young adults should not be reading.
There are certainly some serious undertones to this book, which will make you take a good look at our society, but the playfulness keeps it lighthearted too. It takes a lot to make me laugh when reading, but there were parts of this novel I found genuinely hilarious, such as the two-second time machine that Laurence builds as a young teen. A two-second time machine?? That’s the kind of thing you’ll find in this novel that is so ridiculous it’s funny. In fact, chapter 4 may have been the most ridiculous chapter in any book I’ve ever read, and it had me laughing out loud at a strange and random character named Theodolphus Rose.
Charlie Jane Anders takes you on an outlandish journey through her twisted imagination, as you follow Laurence and Patricia into adulthood, where their worlds and genres collide. As the earth is headed towards the apocalypse with its rapidly rising temperatures, Laurence is working on a machine to create a wormhole to another planet, while Patricia and her magical crew attempt to save the world in their own way. Will science or nature, sci-fi or fantasy, win?
“Weirdness is value neutral.”
“You know… no matter what you do, people are going to expect you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re clever and lucky and work your butt off, then you get to be surrounded by people who expect you to be the person you wish you were.”
“Maybe you can’t make up your mind as easily, if you feel too much.”