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BOOK REVIEW:

All the birds in the sky

All the birds in the sky is a slightly dystopian, romantic, comedic bildungsroman wrapped in a rich, creamy sci-fi, fantasy wrapper. It has everything you need from urban fantasy and science fiction: artificial intelligence, talking cats, great dialogue, flying, nerd parties, magic schools, doomsday machines, time travel, assassins posing as guidance counselors, riddles, loneliness, and love. The story, told in a series of flashbacks and in the present, follows two lonely kids: Laurence, who builds his own time machine and wears it on his wrist (it’s less useful than you’d think), and Patricia, who talks to birds. Somehow they manage to become friends, despite their differences. This is good because middle school is tough on them. Kids are cruel and adults don’t understand them. An assassin from the Nameless Order of Assassins is coming to kill them. Rumours build and bullying increases. All they have, for awhile, is one another. Then, as so often happens in fantasy, they both get the opportunity to develop their talents with others who share their interests. Of course their interests are very different. So Laurence and Patricia move on: one goes away to magic school and the other joins a project to develop wormholes. Like so many moves in childhood, this one marks the end of their childhood friendship. When they meet up, years later, things have changed.  

Witches and mad scientists think about about the world in very different ways. So a last ditch effort to save the human race using a wormhole to send a few people to a different galaxy seems like a great idea to Laurence, even if it could potentially destroy the biosphere. Meanwhile, Patricia and the witches (who can talk to birds and cats and trees) are less impressed with people in general and are working to stem the tide of progressive environmental degradation, even if that means an end to humanity. It boils down to a question of what you value in the world and what you think humanity's place is in the universe.    

Can these two odd people find a way to bridge their misunderstandings and mistrust, and can they forgive each other for the past? Will the council of birds ever receive an answer to their riddle? Can a special smartphone cure loneliness? Is the human race doomed? How about the planet--is the planet doomed? Can a witch and a mad scientist find each other in the midst of all of these questions? Will there be a sequel? Please let there be a sequel.   

 

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