Magic and love are complimentary notions, but author Charlie Jane Anders adds more to the mix: science. Strangely, the menage a trois of genres works well in All the Birds in the Sky.
The novel evolves into an apocalyptic tale from what initially seems like something in the realm of young adult fiction. A lot of sci-fi elements also are thrown in along the way. Nonetheless, it’s consistently a love story.
Laurence and Patricia meet in junior high school as social outcasts. Laurence is a science nerd; no one can quite figure out Patricia. At first their inability to fit in attracts them, ultimately it’s what drives them apart. Laurence views the world through scientific theories/applications. He builds a super-computer in his bedroom closet. Patricia talks to birds and relies on magic. Circumstances separate them until they are reunited as adults in a world soon to face mass destruction.
The development of the major characters is like watching children grow. Sometimes it’s very fast and other times not so much. Still, it’s always interesting.
Anders injects the narrative with humor, which in the face of an apocalypse is impressive. The escalation of events that lead to power outages, water scarcity and death is gradual; Anders creates a sense of urgency, but isn’t heavy handed about it. There’s empathy with fear.
To say the main characters are star-crossed is too much of a cliché, yet … when love, magic and science are thrown into the same dystopia it’s the perfect description.
All the Birds in the Sky
Tom Doherty Associates, 2016