All the Birds in the Sky has won the Nebula and Locus fantasy awards for best novel this year. It has been described as a blend of the fantasy, science fiction, and magical realism genres.
James Wallace Harris, in his great review for SF Signal, describes the novel: “I thought All the Birds in the Sky as three weddings: a marriage of science fiction and fantasy, a marriage of YA and adult, and a marriage of genre and literary.”
I would agree with him but ultimately I don’t care all that much about slotting books neatly into any genre. I’m happy just to go with a story and decide at the end whether or not it worked for me. This might be because I’m into pretty much all genres as long as the story, writing, and characters are good. For this book: check, check, and check.
All the Birds in the Sky is filled with a lot of great ideas that I would have loved to explore more deeply; ideas related to both the fantasy and science fiction elements of the story. Like most stories, the primary focus is the evolving relationship between Patricia (the witch) and Laurence (the science geek/inventor). We follow these very different people through their troubled childhoods, their personal evolutions along diverging paths, and ultimately their reunion in adulthood as they rediscover their friendship, fall in love, and then as they find themselves fighting on opposing sides in a fight to save the world. The crux of this fight is that each side has placed value on different aspects of how and what should be saved of the world. Laurence and Patricia must act on what they believe and see where that leaves them.
You will find yourself on one side or the other of the fight. The question is, what is more important? Just people or all sentient life forms? I enjoyed the character development of Patricia and Laurence and I especially enjoyed discovering the two sides of science and magic through these two characters.
All in all it was a quick and enjoyable read. I liked all the wonderful elements jammed together into this story.