Joe's Reviews > All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
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it was ok

Having read io9 for years (including CJA's posts on constructing narrative) and anticipating this novel for upwards of six months, I found All the Birds in the Sky really disappointing. Not only does it feel like CJA didn't take her own advice on how to structure the novel, the quality of the writing varies widely through the book (at times it feels painfully amateurish and the dialogue is stilted).

Most problematically, I never bought into the love story between Laurence and Patricia. This may be because a large portion of the book was poisoned for me by the aggravating opening section when the pair are kids and Every.Single.Adult is abusive, stupid or both. Secondary characters disappear for long stretches and then reappear for no real reason (Patricia's roommates, Laurence's girlfriend Serafina, and - most egregiously - the assassin character with the flat-out ridiculous name).

There are also randomly inserted bits about science and technology that have seemingly been included solely because CJA liked them from her time at io9. These frequently fail to connect to the larger narrative, though, and more important aspects (like how magic actually works, which is kind of integral to the worldbuilding of the novel) are given short shrift. Finally the central conflict just never really comes together in a satisfying way, especially the events of Denver (which are hastily passed over) and the escalating war between science and magic (which feels strangely small in scope).

I'll fully admit that part of my negativity has likely resulted from the fact that things didn't proceed the way I wanted or expected them to, but I'd also be lying if I didn't say that I was eager to finish not because I was so enthralled to see how it ended, but rather because I just wanted to be done with All the Birds in the Sky.
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Reading Progress

January 30, 2016 – Started Reading
January 30, 2016 – Shelved
January 31, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Hélène Louise Nearly xactly what I could have said, I tried to finish the book but in the end skipped book 4 till the end... Sad I liked the beginning (even if it was, as you said, a bit too much) and the way of presenting magic reminded me of "The magicians" of Grossman. The near future was a little bit like my beloved "After party" of Daryl Gregory but alas nothing like it in the end...

Denise Cameron I feel this way, too. At one point, I noticed that she had mentioned "that thing that happened in Seoul" three times, yet she didn't elaborate. It's a small thing, but she kept doing things like that.

Stephanie You capture how I feel. There was a ton of potential here, but everything felt under developed and rushed. Not to mention the anticlimactic resolution to the "is a tree red" question...oh my gah.

Adam Bullock Couldn't agree more.

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