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Book Review

‘All the Birds in the Sky’


I love books that defy easy explanation. Some of my most beloved books are those that are impossible to categorize or sum up in a few words. “All the Birds in the Sky” may be the quintessential impossible-to-define novel — and I adore it.

By Charlie Jane Anders 320 pp Tor Books $25.99 Jan. 26, 2016

By Charlie Jane Anders
320 pp
Tor Books
Jan. 26, 2016

Patricia and Laurence are typical outsider kids whose odd friendship evolves as many do,  from the effervescence of a childhood bond to the drama of adolescence and the eventual fading as they move to young adulthood. The book jumps throughout the course of their friendship until they are reunited unexpectedly as the world goes seemingly insane with catastrophes and a burgeoning war. Sounds like a classic dystopian novel, but there’s much more to the story.

Our two protagonists are outsiders for a reason, and their secrets become key twists in the plot as they realize their roles in the coming disaster may be vital. Large and looming questions of right and wrong plague Patricia and Laurence as ethics, responsibility and human nature are threaded in the plot against the apocalyptic backdrop. They have to learn to trust themselves and each other to save the world.

Exquisitely written, thoughtful and entertaining, “All the Birds in the Sky” is unlike anything else on the bestseller list today. Cutting observations of humanity are nevertheless still hopeful. Charlie Jane Anders pierces deep into philosophy and questions of the future in her genre-bending book, but she never fails to approach it with sensitivity and a deep recognition for all the shades of grey intrinsic in the human experience. This book may not be easy to describe, but it is all the more beautiful for it. CV

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Julie is a collector of whimsical tattoos, bobby pins and music festival wristbands. She lives in a fog of indie music and cat hair in bucolic West Des Moines. She never could get the hang of Thursdays.

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