Friday, May 4, 2012

Sci-Fi: The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb

Publisher: Unbridled Books
Date: June 12, 2012
Format: ARC
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.)
Pages: 310
Reading time: five days

Back of the book: When a dust storm engulfs her Colorado town and pink snow blankets the streets, Ruby Cole faces a heartbreaking decision: she must either abandon her baby or give in to her father and marry a man more than twice her age who already has two wives. Her choice sets in motion events that upend the lives of an equestrian police officer, pawnshop riffraff, a disabled war vet, Nuisance Animal destroyers, and a grieving ornithologist who is studying the decline of bird populations. All the while, a growing criminal enterprise moves from cattle rustling to kidnapping to hijacking fuel tankers and murder.

My review: In a time where the sci-fi genre is glutted by YA books also shelved in the "paranormal romance" section, the ideas behind The Bird Saviors are a welcome break to the norm. A dust bowl-like environmental catastrophe, avian flu returned with a vengeance, fundamentalist Mormons, and the scapegoated killing of birds combine in this near-future novel best categorized as post-apocalyptic to create an engaging plot and varied cast of characters. The problem with the book? It reads like a somewhat-literary Western novel, focusing mostly on the action and relationships between characters and little on the underlying development. The background behind the apocalyptic scenarios is barely explained, and it took me a while to connect the "Saints" gang with FLDS characters already met. The characters largely felt underdeveloped, with the author focusing more on their sex lives (non-explicitly) and current actions rather than any deeper motives and backgrounds. The sense of time was confusing, often jumping several weeks without explanation. But despite these issues, The Bird Saviors is well-worth a read for the plot. Rarely dragging, the storyline takes readers on one whirlwind of a series of events, effortlessly switching between multiple character viewpoints to provide many angles for the issues at hand.

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