Monday, March 21, 2016

All the Birds in the Sky -- Charlie Jane Anders

Magic vs. science, or magic in love with science?  That's what we get in All the Birds in the Sky.  Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead are a couple of kids whose parents not only don't understand them but who are downright bad news.  If you thought the Dursleys were bad, well, maybe they were, but at least they weren't Harry Potter's birth parents.  

Patricia and Laurence don't fit in at school, either.  Nobody will sit with them.  Everybody picks on them.  She's a dreamer and he's a nerd.  But they have reasons.  She's a witch, and he's a techno geek who's way ahead of anyone around him.  For example, he builds a two-second time machine and then a computer that's is on its way to sentience.  Naturally the two outcasts become friends as they struggle with their powers and abilities.  

Theodolphus Rose a great assassin, believes that the two of them will one day bring about the apocalypse.  He tries to kill them, and when that fails, becomes the guidance counselor at their school.  In that role he manages to separate them, seemingly for good.

But it's not for good.  The two reunite years later in a near-future San Francisco where Patricia is practicing witchcraft and Laurence is working for an Elon Musk-like guy who has several amazing projects going.  When Laurence gets in trouble with something supposedly done for fun, he calls on Patricia for help.  For the first time we get an inkling that science and magic aren't incompatible, but Laurence and Patricia don't see it that way.  Their on-again-off-again romance is mostly off, and as the world rushes toward apocalypse, or Armageddon, they're both working with different teams to ward it off in very different ways.  Many people die in catastrophic events and in the clash between science and magic.  

This book has received rave reviews, which is why I bought it, and while I enjoyed it, I have a few complaints.  Many of the characters and ideas get short shrift.  Granted, there's a lot going on in the book, but there were things I wanted (many not needed) to know.  Or maybe I was supposed to figure them out on my own and was too dense.  Also, most readers are going to tumble to a Big Reveal a couple of hundred pages before Patricia and Laurence.  Maybe that's deliberate, too, and it doesn't really matter, I guess.  It was kind of irritating, though, because those are supposed to be really sharp people.  I liked the writing style and the humor, although I must admit I'm a little tired of Armageddon and the apocalypse.  Overall, a thumbs up, even if I didn't love it the way so many others do.

1 comment:

Richard Robinson said...

"I'm a little tired of Armageddon and the apocalypse." Yep, me too, along with vampires and zombies and "dystopia".