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The Bird Saviors

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  45 reviews
When a dust storm engulfs her Colorado town and pink snow blankets the streets, a heartbreaking decision faces Ruby Cole, a girl who counts birds: She must abandon her baby or give in to her father, whom she nicknames Lord God, and marry a man more than twice her age who already has two wives. She chooses to run, which sets in motion an interlocking series of actions and r ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Unbridled Books
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3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  139 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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This book is melodramatic, over stylized and flawed. It's also obsessed with references to objects that are blood-red, silhouettes that are black, and clouds that are menacing (oh, and of course, birds).

And as I tripped over the dramatic language and wondered at all of the red and the black and the repetitive mentioning of birds on almost every page, I was almost going mad with a nagging suspicion that something was happening that I needed to understand. I could tell immediately that this Willia
Jenny Shank
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it

A world of plague and hope: A review of The Bird Saviors

REVIEW - From the February 04, 2013 issue High Country News
By Jenny Shank
The Bird Saviors
William J. Cobb
320 pages, hardcover: $25.95.
Unbridled Books, 2012.

In William J. Cobb's lyrical novel The Bird Saviors, a mysterious virus strikes the residents of Pueblo, Colo. Some blame wild birds for spreading the disease, which leaves victims incapacitated for weeks or eventually kills them. Employees of the D
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dystopia doesn't have to be some barely imaginable, distant future. It can be so close to reality that it is scary, and that's how this book felt to me. Not far off in the future but a more extreme version of what is happening now: killing drought, dust storms, pink snow, and the bird population decimated. That the setting is a part of Colorado very familiar to me made the story all the more realistic.

I loved Ruby from page one. I even wondered from the beginning if the domineering Lord God (Rub
Jaime Boler
May 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
The premise of William J. Cobb’s The Bird Saviors sounds intriguing and timely. An in-depth reading of the novel, however, soon reveals just how far Cobb misses the mark.

Dead birds, massive climate changes, oil crises, viruses, uncertain futures, cults, religious fundamentalism, war in the Middle East–all of these are popular apocalyptic topics Cobb uses in his story. The Bird Saviors also becomes a coming-of-age tale with Ruby, a teen mom who loves her daughter, Lila, with all her heart and wou
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this really was amazing (the caption for five stars). I was drawn in immediately by the story line, but what impressed me the most was that my feelings about characters changed as the story went. I felt like I myself was going through the greater understanding that the protagonist is supposed to go through.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
A rather tortured story of people living at the ragged edges of a world under duress (not far in the future) but lit by lyrical passages and the blessings of hope.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for a novel to read while the government is in the midst of this sequester craziness (since it looks like this is going to happen), you're in the right place.

Don't leave yet, though, because this book? Is fantastic and absolutely well worth the read, sequester or fiscal cliff or political shenanigans be damned.

Actually, there's a bit of damnation involved in The Bird Saviors, come to think of it.

The Bird Saviors is set in modern-day Colorado in a seemingly not-too-distant futur
The Short of It:

When religion and love collide, what’s left?

The Rest of It:

When I first came across this book, the summary focused on the presence of a bird flu or some other phenomenon which was killing birds off over time. Me, being the doomsday lover that I am, quickly snatched it up thinking it was another end-of-the-world book which I seem to have a fondness for. About a quarter of the way through, I realized it was most definitely NOT that, but there was something about it that kept me rea
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Whether it's Cormac McCarthy's scalp-hunters wrecking apocalypse then, or The Bird Saviors living through an apocalypse now, the empty, but ghost ridden, dust be-deviled, water scarce, and myth-haunted SW offers the perfect landscape for the prelude to the end-times. And just as I put the book down the New Yorker (Jan 20, 2014) came out with an article detailing the latest eco-catastrophe to hit the desert and plains.

In the book, somewhere in the region of Pueblo, CO a pall of red dust is hangi
Emily Crow
Set in a near future of climate change, disease, and economic unrest, the novel focuses on several characters who live in a dusty, impoverished town in Colorado. Ruby is a teen-aged single mother who has ambitions to do something worthwhile with her life, despite the fact that her father--a fundamentalist Mormon preacher--wants to marry her off as some older man's third wife. Hiram Page, a disreputable pawn shop owner, is the man he's thinking of. Hiram controls a crime syndicate of polygamist M ...more
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In a time where the sci-fi genre is glutted by YA books also shelved in the "paranormal romance" section, the ideas behind The Bird Saviors are a welcome break to the norm. A dust bowl-like environmental catastrophe, avian flu returned with a vengeance, fundamentalist Mormons, and the scapegoated killing of birds combine in this near-future novel best categorized as post-apocalyptic to create an engaging plot and varied cast of characters. The problem with the book? It reads like a somewhat-lite ...more
Tiffany Hickox
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb artfully blends the desolate enchantment of the desert lands of Southern Colorado with a cast of colorful down-and-out characters who find their lives subtly intertwining on the brink of what promises to be either the next big depression or the beginning of the end.

In a near-future ravaged by an alarming bird-flu pandemic and economic turmoil, a seventeen-year-old single mother finds her religious father trying to wed her off to Hiram Page, a shady pawn shop o
Alice Meloy
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
This story of several flawed but good-hearted characters and a few total jerks is set in a climate-ravaged central Colorado city of the near future. If there is a main character, it is Ruby, a teenage single mother who, along with most of the other characters, yearns to break free from the meaninglessness of daily life. She finds some hope in her job as an assistant to a scientist who has come to investigate the bird populations of the area after a major epidemic has wiped out a significant numb ...more
May 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Another DNF: I kept trying to like this, trying to understand how the threads would tie together, trying to care about the characters. And at first I did, but by halfway through, I realized that I never would.

This was promoted as having dystopian overtones, but all I saw was a fever and a dustbowl-like climate. The addition of the FLDS seemed a bit gratuitous, as Lord God would have been just as effective had be preached for any other denomination (and his preaching? didn't really play a role i
if you've read cobb's book about the sinking coastlines of texas, you'll know he has a knack of imagining the lives of folk carrying on, even in the face of sure disaster and unredemptive capitalism, environmental meltdown, and greek tragedy.
"bird savoirs" is a bit in the same, drought, storms, power outages, flu that kills birds and people; truthers, hippies, cops, all try to simultaneously profit from the chaos we have created, and make things better. cobb's most fully formed global weirding n
Apr 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

The Bird Saviors is close, in essence, to the writing of Richard Russo, but not quite on par. It is a thoughtful, provocative novel that keeps the reader’s attention despite the fact there are a few loose ends that need attention. Questions of logic arise, such as why Ruby did not leave home with her mother (a structurally weak ploy). Yet, it is redeemed by the author’s intriguing plot, character development and style of writing. The ending is a bit sappy, although probable.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
I did not realise what the genre of the book was prior to reading it, which explains how I ended up reading a dystopian novel. I admit this is not a genre I typically enjoy and rarely read which is most likely why I can only give the book 3 stars. However, I enjoyed Cobb's well-written characters and would advise those who enjoy dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels to check out other reviews as I do not think I can give a fully unbiased review since I have few novels of this genre to compare it ...more
Andy Mitchell
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
The characters in this story are fascinating.

I wish the author hadn't ended the story so abruptly. I was right with the flow of the story until the curse.

Then I quickly found myself more and more disappointed with the ending.

It felt flawed like Stephen King's notoriously bad endings to his novels.

I'd be willing to try this story again if the author cut the last 50 pages and wrote a longer, more realistic conclusion. It's a rare book that leaves me both disappointed and wanting more.
Jennifer Fosket
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I got really into this story about a desolate Colorado town in the near future when climate change has wreaked its havoc, an avian flu is decimating the population and fundamentalists run rampant. In the midst of all of this, Cobb has created a cast of interesting characters who get into lots of trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I only give it four stars because I felt it ended with way to many loose ends flapping in the wind. I'm a little mad about that right now.
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
The deliberate but subtle countervailing of stereotypes results in a narrative that doesn't quite go the way that the reader would expect it to. The story ends up not being so much an apocalyptic thriller, but rather a story about integrity and relationships. The author's style of trying to cut through facades to the warm hearted archetypes underneath reminded me a bit of Ken Kesey's approach to storytelling.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Bird Saviors is an intriguing tale of the future that scarily feels like it's not so distant, if it isn't here already.

The characters are interesting, and there are quite a mix of them. It's not plot-driven, although there are many little plots throughout. Pieces of today echo in the future of this book.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: indie, fiction
I didn't really like this book so much. First of all, it felt like when you started this book it had already started without you and so your missing a part of the story. It was disjointed. The second half of the of the book was better than the first half. But still that didn't really make up the for the book.
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-love-this-book
This book is set in Colorado(during a "dust-bowl" heatwave) about the near future. The "fundies" are either at war,or barley coexisiting. Everyone blames the immigrants, eachother, and the birds. The climate, both political and desert-like, was a bit too close for comfort. But I like the relevancy, and the atmosphere, and the survivors (with their laden hearts and their tormented souls).
Ron Krall
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Captures the feeling of open space and nature in the midst of telling a story of becoming. I really liked Ruby, and enjoyed her battle for independence and security. And the birds form a nature backdrop that appeals to anyone who senses nature through the sounds and flight of birds.
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
While it took me a bit of time to get into this dystopian tale, I'm really glad I stuck with it. The characters come alive through description and actions. These are real people, not perfect, but trying to do their best in a difficult world. I very much recommend this book.
Mario Saverino
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it

I'm not sure if I liked this book? I did not hate it, yet it felt like something was missing. I do know I did not like the ending. However, I did like the style in which it was written, kind of like a black and white movie wanting to be in color.
Amy Hyde
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Not a bad book. Only gave it three stars because it wasn't a book that really made me ignore my children crying so I could read it, but good enough that I wanted to find out what happened in the end. I finished it and felt just fine with it.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book tried so hard, so very very hard to be "literary". But failed so, so very very much. The characters were all interesting but nobody's personality/history was fully formed enough.
Harry Varnis
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Kind of a strange one...
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William J. Cobb is a novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and many others. He's the author of two novels - The Fire Eaters (W.W. Norton 1994) and Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled Books 2006) - and a book of stories, The White Tattoo (Ohio State UP 2002). He reviews books for the Dallas Morning News, the ...more