What do you get if you cross a super clever childhood scientist / inventor, a bird-whispering witch and a burgeoning love story between two very different people on opposite sides of a potentially world-ending war? You get this incredible novel by Charlie Jane Anders that you will fall deep into and never want to leave.
Laurence is the science mad kid who invents things way beyond his age, who ends up befriending witch Patricia, as they both suffer in their roles as school outcasts. Eventually life gets between them and they grow apart, only to later reconnect again as adults.
Patricia has graduated from a secret academy for witches and works with other magically gifted people to heal the world’s ills one magical act at a time. Laurence works with some of the cleverest technological minded people in the world, working on finding an alternative to a failing planet Earth.
On the brink of war between science and magic, Patricia and Laurence must decide on which side of the divide they stand, whilst also working out their feelings on life, adulthood and most importantly each other.
I loved the mash up between science and magic; two differing disciplines both with huge potential for good or for destruction. The science in this book is intelligent without sounding pretentious or too complicated and the magical realism is stunning as opposed to silly.
The reader comes to know so much about Patricia and Laurence that they become people you really care about. In fact you learn a lot about most of the characters introduced; their appearance and their quirks, so that you feel that they could be friends that you already know, yet individual in their own ways.
This is a wondrous coming of age story that deeply explores sex and relationships from the awkward teenage phase right through into adulthood. It’s magical and futuristic and also brilliantly funny at times, without being distracted from the bigger picture.
I’m already a big fan of blurred lines, genre-bending novels and this one blew me away and was every bit as unique as I had hoped it would be. For a debut novel, I really think this is something special, and think it would also make an amazing movie. Fingers crossed it gets the accolades it deserves.
If Patricia and Laurence don’t get a sequel, then I’d love to see what Charlie Jane Anders does with any of the other characters from the little bubble of awesomeness she has created. Failing that, I’d just love to see a second book from an author I’m pretty excited about.