This is a strange book.
As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I love novels that seek to blur and break down the boundaries between genres. Give me horror in my romance, science-fiction in my spy thriller, fantasy in my historical fiction.
But Charlie Jane Anders’ debut novel highlights the risks in this approach. Is it a coming of age story? A quirky teen drama? Dystopian sci-fi? Young adult fantasy? Romance? It’s all those things at various times.
What it’s not is particularly coherent.
The story focuses on Patricia, a young girl who discovers she’s a witch, and Laurence, a budding computer genius. They’re misfits who find solace in each other – but who soon discover they’re on opposing sides of a war between magic and science, the mysterious and the rational, fantasy and fact.
This is a book full of ambition and ideas but it’s ultimately just pulled in too many directions at once; it lacks focus and is poorly-paced, meandering rather than racing towards its apocalyptic conclusion.