All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

all-the-birdsWhat it’s about: 
Patricia and Laurence are friends hoping to survive the terrible ordeal of middle school. And granted, they’re weird. Patricia has an odd on-and-off ability to speak to animals, and Laurence spends hours in his room building a supercomputer in his closet and perfecting his two-second time machine to help him dodge the lunchroom slop that occasionally gets hurled his way. They lose touch when they’re pulled away to separate schools to help them hone their unusual skills.

Decades later, as the world is slowly declining in famine, tidal waves, and political unrest, Laurence and Patricia reunite in San Francisco (which manages to be familiarly trendy, even on the edge of global collapse). Laurence is part of a brilliant team of scientists trying to give humans a back-up plan for when the world goes to crap, and Patricia is a witch trying to heal what’s gone terribly wrong. Their differences are divisive, but in the final days of the Earth’s decline, they’re forced to work together to convince their respective communities that the world may actually be worth saving.

Why I liked it: This book blew me away. It’s like Ready Player One met The Night Circus and had an apocalyptic baby.

It’s elegant treatment of science fiction (some of which had a delicious echo of Douglas Adams-esque humor), fantasy and realistic apocalyptic content made it feel like Anders had hand-mixed a cocktail of my three favorite genres just for me. I loved the relatable setting – a hipster San Francisco that’s chillingly familiar – and the characters felt just as real.  I ached for Patricia and Laurence as they battled their way through middle school and then had to reconcile deep ideological differences in their relationship. But, it’s not just a book about a relationship; it’s also a wickedly good sci-fi novel about the responsibility organizations have to the planet, and the troubles that arise when ideological differences get in the way of the goal.

Funny, endearing, brilliantly creative–oh, and did I mention that the ending is unexpected and satisfying? Dang. Read it already.

Audience: Adult

Published: 2016

Read if you liked: 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


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