This debut novel by first time published novelist, Charlie Jane Anders, won the Nebula award and offers a refreshing combination of all my favourite things. Sci-fi, fantasy, new World and is on the fringe of the young adult/new adult boundary, with a just the right amount of raunchiness thrown in.
|Patricia – discovers she’s a witch when she’s a child. Has a ‘fey’ and dreamy air about her. Connected to nature and her intuition. In some ways, a stereotypical female character. In others, a strong ‘feminist’ on a mission to save the World. She fulfills the fantasy criteria of the novel.|
|Laurence – an uber-geek who learns to dabble with time and artificial intelligence as a kid to avoid the bullies and have a friend, he also sneaks out of school to go and see a rocket but time changes him more than he changes time.|
I do love a bit of ‘end-of-the-world’ angst and this novel certainly delivered on that. Childhood friends Patricia and Laurence are drawn together through a combination of circumstances and a rather tragic outlook on life. After being separated during high school, they are reunited once again through a series of events leading up to the inevitable end-of-the-world scenario. And without giving the game away, it is up to them to save the day, can they?
This is a wonderful blend of sci-fi, fantasy, on the cusp of the young-adult/new adult boundary and new world discoveries; with a good bit of romance, crime and thriller thrown in all for good measure.
I absolutely fell in love with part one of the novel. The development of Patricia and Laurence as children was a beautiful, albeit traumatic, tale told in a way that was authentic and honoured the overall purpose of the plot. The development of the relationship between Patricia and Laurence portrayed the balance between its fragility and necessity in a way that was realistic and humbling. I found myself identifying with different aspects of myself in both characters, making them realistic and likeable. Equally, I could feel the frustration and tension between them building as they inevitably grew apart.
I think because I was so built up by part one, I have to admit that I don’t think part two delivered quite as much, perhaps this was the author’s intention, but I did feel it left me chasing the proverbial literary high. I don’t deny, Anders writing style lights a real magic spark for me in literary terms and this novel is well written throughout. Unlike some of the sci-fi and fantasy genre, the literary aspect isn’t compromised, but this part left me feeling a little flat.
What I did enjoy, is reading about the development of the sci-fi and fantasy aspects of the two characters. Following their journey’s and reading about magic really lights up my imagination and this was no exception. The sci-fi elements (no pun intended) got my creative juices flowing as the possibilities unravelled and Anders built this glorious world around the inevitable inter-twining of these two lost and likeable characters.
As I have a passion for all things sci-fi and fantasy and tales about youthful characters and childhood experiences, I was expecting a lot from this novel and I wasn’t disappointed. This novel delivered a brilliant balance of sci-fi and fantasy that delighted my inner geek. It is full of apocalyptic irony throughout and a delight to the imaginative spark in us all.
It appears that my opinions are shared, as can be gleaned from other All the Birds in the Sky Book reviews. And I am eagerly anticipating Anders next novel!