All The Birds in The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
All The Birds in The Sky is about connection and isolation. It plays with the scale of reality and the drama inherent to lived experience to show two lonely kids learning how to grow up, and distributed consciousnesses connecting.
I love how this book takes the dichotomy of magic and technology and just... runs with it. The narrative has a kind of shuffling structure, where some plot thread is being advanced in every scene, but not evenly, and sometimes a lot of things happen all at once. It meant the first part of the book felt very slow, but about a fifth of the way through it began picking up and there was a snowball effect. Every scene is doing many things, some of which take a while to show up, and some which are evident immediately. I read this in less than two days, and still there was enough of a slow burn that some threads closing were able to surprise me because they had space to develop and close.
There's a lot of sorrow here, because it's about learning how to be better and how to cope, there's a lot of early stuff where things are terrible and they don't know how to handle it yet. That part was pretty rough, but even though not everything gets better, they learned ways to deal.
Patricia and Lawrence are quirky and cute, their dynamic changes throughout the book as they become different people. I really like how they change over time, how they grow (positively and negatively) throughout. It's not a linear progression, and that makes it feel more real.
It's about witches, magic, wormholes, technology, talking birds, a talking tree, and self-aware AI.
Seriously, check this one out.
CW for abusive parents, parental death, torture (implied), sex (explicit), bullying/abuse (explicit).