All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders – Book Review

 

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads Description:

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

My Review:

When we are first introduced to Patricia Delfine she is seven years old.  She lives with her parents and older sister.  Her parents are somewhat cruel with their punishments, i.e. locking Patricia in her room and sliding meals under her door.  It is at this time of Patricia’s life that she discovers she can speak to animals.  She is drawn to the woods near her house and finds herself speaking to birds.  This is the first glimpse of her magical abilities.

Laurence Armstead is an only child who is fascinated with science and computers.  His parents are constantly trying to get him out of the house and enrolling him in extra-curricular activities  to get him out of the house in an attempt to keep him from becoming “socially dysfunctional”.

Patricia and Laurence’s paths cross in middle school and we follow their lives and relationship as they mature and their lives diverge.  There are many magical elements to this story.  Patricia’s life follows a magical path and Laurence’s life follows a scientific/science-fiction-esque path.  These two very different life choices will eventually cross paths causing an almost dystopian-like conflict.

I was enjoying the beginning of the book and was expecting it to be more magical and less science-fiction as it went along.  I found the conflict to be the story’s downfall for me.  The characters were somewhat likable but also confused and flawed which didn’t add to their likability.  They were not characters that I bonded with or felt an affinity for.  Their friendship is tested and weathers through lots of mishaps.  I would have liked more magic and less science-fiction.  That is just my personal taste and this book did not live up to that magical potential.

 

Illuminae book review

Illuminae

Rating: 4 stars

Let me begin by saying I am not much of a Sci Fi fan.  I used to be a fan of horror novels, although as I’ve gotten older I’ve had a harder time stomaching them.  I do love romance novels, especially those that involve time travel and historical fiction.  Illuminae is a YA Sci Fi/Horror/ Romance novel that I discovered on a booktube channel.  The reviewer had mentioned the cool formatting, so when I saw it in the bookstore I flipped through it and immediately understood what they were talking about.  I had to read it.

This is not your typical novel formatting.  The events in the story have already taken place and are told through various documents: files, text messages, interviews, transcripts, maps, etc.  I really loved how they did this because for me this made the story unfold like a real officially documented event and added a technical sci-fi feel that was appropriate to the story.

Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are 18 year olds who just broke up.  They are living in 2575 on Kerenza, an illegally settled colony on another planet.  Kerenza is attacked by BeiTech Corporation and many inhabitants escape via three different space ships.  Kady and Ezra wind up on different ships and a lot of the dialogue is of the two communicating with each via messages.  Meanwhile, the three ships are being chased by a BeiTech warship that is trying to destroy them in order to do away with  any evidence of the Kerenza attack.  Also, one of the three escaping ships has an AI, artificial intelligent computer, that has a mind of its own and needs to be dealt with.  Add to this a virus that was released during the Kerenza attack and turns many of the survivors into zombie like killing machines.

Normally I would give this book less than four stars because I found the story line making me quite depressed.  The plot is pretty much about destruction, depression, and death.  While the authors fit in a  young romantic story line between Kady and Ezra, it is still pretty bleak.  But it earned four stars for those very same reasons.  The presentation was so realistic and evoked such depression and despair, that I had to give it some kudos for that.

This is the 1st book in a series.  It is 608 pages but because of its formatting it is a very fast read.  I will continue to read this series to see how it ends, but I hope the next book is more uplifting.