The Bird Saviors

The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb (Unbridled Books; 320 pages; $25.95).

The premise of William J. Cobb’s The Bird Saviors sounds intriguing and timely.  An in-depth reading of the novel, however, soon reveals just how far Cobb misses the mark.

Dead birds, massive climate changes, oil crises, viruses,  uncertain futures, cults, religious fundamentalism, war in the Middle East–all of these are popular apocalyptic topics Cobb uses in his story.  The Bird Saviors also becomes a coming-of-age tale with Ruby, a teen mom who loves her daughter, Lila, with all her heart and would do anything to protect the child, even if that means leaving her behind.  Ruby is Cobb’s most well-developed character.  Her father, who she calls “Lord God,” is also finely crafted and more than a little scary.  If only Cobb had kept his narrative focus on Ruby.

Instead, Cobb shifts perspective away from his star to other, less interesting, less believable, and less likeable characters–people I never connected with nor cared about.  The Bird Saviors would have been a wonderful novel if Cobb had chosen to tell the tale solely from Ruby’s point of view.  Cobb, in his narrative shifts, bungles the story, and the result is jumbled and unfocused.

I was hoping for something akin to Summer of the Apocalypse by James Van Pelt or Into the Forest by Jean Hegland.  The Bird Saviors, despite its early promise, falls short.  Even poor little Ruby cannot save this tale.

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