All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I was hesitant, at first, to review this book, so perhaps this really won’t be a review. This is a book that appears to have universal adulation (if the internet is to be believed) and I so wanted to like it too. It was witchy, magical, and fantastical, or so it claimed. It did have some of these elements but, sadly, it was truly terrible.

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a bad book; I generally stick to the 50 page rule, but this one really did trick me. The first third is engaging: the plot flowed even with a few bumps and repetitiveness, but the language was compelling and the magic, so to speak, was enough to keep me there (also, after the sad failure of my attempt to watch that horrid SyFy show The Magicians, I was really hoping this book would do the trick to remedy my desire for something enjoyable and magical).

I am baffled by the praise here. Perhaps, the reviewers only read the first third and wisely didn’t finish. The beginning deals with the characters when they’re children and then at some point jumps ahead into adulthood: one is a apocalyptic-type of Silicon Valley engineer that in real life would make me roll my eyes so much they would fall down a sewer drain and the second, Patricia, who had real potential is a “feisty” witch who never is very interesting or magical as an adult….also, there’s something about her being able to understand birds (hence the title, but whatever, really).

The terrible two thirds are twisty and unpleasant. Too much is brought up and it is incredibly opaque. I have no problem with unlikable characters, but I absolutely didn’t care about them. I hoped they quickly perished in whatever future worldwide catastrophe was approaching; at least the book would be over sooner.

I stuck with it because the beginning was promising. It reminded me of the lightness of Neil Gaiman’s writing–as if the reader is in a strange fairy tale of the author’s own making. But All the Birds in the Sky is the biggest con of the publishing schedule for 2016. Avoid at all costs. There are too many books in this world to read. Good grief, was this awful. A huge question I kept wondering was did Charlie Janie Anders even have an editor? Was she just taking four different books she was thinking of and mash them together hoping the reader would be stupid enough to accept this? I have never felt so alone in my opinion (except when I switch over to the 1-3 star ratings on Goodreads).

If I wasn’t borrowing this from the library, I would have certainly chucked it out of a window no lower than the third floor of a building.

 

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7 comments

  1. Reviews-I-can-use! Thanks. I probably won’t read the book, but out of curiosity I WILL run over and read some of the other reviews out there. . .try to see them defend the book!

    1. I didn’t think I was going to review this one–and I’m not really sure if this is a review–but I can’t get over how heralded this book is. I wonder if it’s because it had such excellent publicity leading up to its release with the reading audience being told how much they would like it, it was read uncritically. Even so, I read it for enjoyment with no intention of reviewing and it truly was a slog.

      1. I’ve had just that same experience too many times. I already know that my tastes aren’t going to line up with what occurs in the world of best-sellers and best-promoted, but still, sometimes you just really think, this book will be the exception. . !

  2. Oh gosh, yeah, I mean — I didn’t dislike this book as much as you did, but I had really serious reservations about it. None of the emotional beats really landed for me. Even though I thought the system of magic was super fascinating, and the science too, I just wasn’t wild about the ways they played out. And yeah, I didn’t care if Patricia or Lawrence ended up happy in the end.

    1. I think my dislike came from the fact that this sounded so much like a book I would like and it totally hoodwinked me, too. So I definitely held a grudge. Sadly, the magic wasn’t enough. For a book so concerned with magic and science, it seemed so minuscule.

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