The Bird Saviors

The Bird Saviors

by William J. Cobb

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When a dust storm engulfs her Colorado town and pink snow blankets the streets, a heartbreaking decision faces Ruby Cole, a girl who counts birds: She must abandon her baby or give in to her father, whom she nicknames Lord God, and marry a man more than twice her age who already has two wives. She chooses to run, which sets in motion an interlocking series of actions and reactions, upending the lives of an equestrian police officer, pawnshop riffraff, a disabled war vet, Nuisance Animal destroyers, and a grieving ornithologist--a field biologist studies the decline of bird populations. All the while, a growing criminal enterprise moves from cattle rustling to kidnapping to hijacking fuel tankers and murder as events spin out of control,.

Set in a time of economic turmoil, virus fears, climate change, fundamentalist cults and illegal immigrant hardship, The Bird Saviors is a visionary story of defiance, anger, and compassion, in which a young woman ultimately struggles to free herself from her domineering father, to raise her daughter in the chaos of the New West, and to become something greater herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609530716
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication date: 06/12/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 314 KB

About the Author

William J. Cobb is the author a book of stories, The White Tattoo, and two previous novels, The Fire Eaters and, more recently, the critically acclaimed Goodnight, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and in many other magazines. He has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, the Sandstone Prize, and an AWP Award for the Novel. He was raised in Texas and currently lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches in the writing program at Penn State, and in Colorado.

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The Bird Saviors 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
mojomomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the near future in Colorado, Ruby lives with her very religious father and her baby girl in a dusty shack way out in the country. Her father tried to marry her off to the local pawn store owner, who is also a polygamist. She instead is interested in the local ornithologist who comes to the area to count the dwindling bird population. The thing that makes this book so compelling is that we are so close to this particular scenario--bad economy, global warming and drought, and a random virus (perhaps spread by birds) that has killed a significant portion of the population. Excellent book and I look forward to reading more of Cobb's work.
melopher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm sad to have found the first book published by Unbridled that I did not like. The writing style - short sentences, no quotation marks - was disrupting to me, but I could have gotten past that if there was something in the characters or the plot or the themes to captivate me. I don't naturally gravitate towards dystopia/post-apocalyptic/natural disaster settings, and this book did nothing to win me over. (The Road and The Handmaid's Tale were a different story, this one solidified my tendencies.) The characters didn't contain any warmth or other characteristics to excite my sympathy. And for all that the book talked about faith and hope, I didn't experience either of those things. I found it dry and depressing.
SusieBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
juniperSun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very enjoyable book, tho I admit to being put off by the frequent use of "Lord God" in the first chapter. But this is not a story of fundamentalists, although that is one of the first characters you meet. It is more about how people survive in small communities after a major (imminent?) economic downturn. Ruby is a character you can feel sympathy for, her home life is not too pleasant due to her father's undercurrent of anger. She gets her pleasure in observing the birds around her. I do wonder how she ended up with a child at 17 (the recent past is vague), and why her mother didn't take her along when she moved out.But this is not just the story of Ruby, her family and her controversial job counting birds. There is Jack Brown, a scam artist and loser; Hiram Page, pawnbroker, a Mormon only because there's profit in it; and Israel James, horseback policeman. Not all characters are developed as fully. Just when I was feeling that George Armstrong Custer was the token sensitive "fullblood Indian" because his past was not developed and he had no family, his sister pops up. However, she's there just to deliver one line and we never hear about his family again--not even when he's about to be a father, surely an event that would bring on carloads of aunties. It feels like a very current novel, with references to an unnamed Middle East war, survivalist enclaves, anti-Mexican fervor, oil scarcity, and declining bird populations. I wonder how it will wear over the years, when references to Weather Channel, or abandoned Circuit Citys may loose their meaning.If you've ever wondered what America's going to be like when the economic bubble bursts (again), you'll want to read this.
TiffanyHickox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb artfully blends the desolate enchantment of the desert lands of Southern Colorado with a cast of colorful down-and-out characters who find their lives subtly intertwining on the brink of what promises to be either the next big depression or the beginning of the end.In a near-future ravaged by an alarming bird-flu pandemic and economic turmoil, a seventeen-year-old single mother finds her religious father trying to wed her off to Hiram Page, a shady pawn shop owner with two wives. She decides to take her destiny into her own hands and finds a job counting birds for a grieving, widowed ornithologist. Throughout the book, various other characters touch their lives in one way or another, including a vigilante Arapaho, Hiram Page's criminal counterparts, a scorned bride, and a shoddy police officer.Overall, while the plot moves a little slowly, the character's true motives and intentions are gloriously revealed during the books final, well deserved climax. It's a story worth sticking out to the end.
jjm2004 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very elegantly written short novel set in the not too distant future. Economic uncertainty, immigrant wars and crippling climate changes set the background for this character-driven story. The main character is a young girl with a baby and a domineering father she calls Lord God. I think she is the bird in the title and she has to save herself.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dystopia doesn't have to be some barely imaginable, distant future. It can be so close to reality that it is scary, and that's how this book felt to me. Not far off in the future but a more extreme version of what is happening now: killing drought, dust storms, pink snow, and the bird population decimated. That the setting is a part of Colorado very familiar to me made the story all the more realistic.I loved Ruby from page one. I even wondered from the beginning if the domineering Lord God (Ruby's father, a flesh-and-bones person) might have a decent soul under all that harshness. The characters in this book were wonderful to get to know, even when I didn't always like them.Down inside where it matters, he knows his soul is corrupt. He even suspects that one day, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, he will burn in the everlasting fires and torments of hell. But seeing how he's not exactly a saint to being with, the underworld might be full of compadres.I am not a fan of dialogue without quotation marks, especially when dialogue and narrative are in the same paragraph. And some of the metaphors seemed to draw attention to themselves a bit too much. Despite those minor issues, the writing was lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.I was fortunate to receive a free advance reader's copy through LibraryThing, and the quote may have changed in the finished edition.
BALE on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Bird Saviors is close, in essence, to the writing of Richard Russo, but not quite on par. It is a thoughtful, provocative novel that keeps the reader¿s attention despite the fact there are a few loose ends that need attention. Questions of logic arise, such as why Ruby did not leave home with her mother (a structurally weak ploy). Yet, it is redeemed by the author¿s intriguing plot, character development and style of writing. The ending is a bit sappy, although probable. Where Cobb¿s portrait of a southwestern desert family is not a masterpiece, it is an interesting piece of writing worth reading.
ReadHanded on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Bird Saviors by William J. Cobb, the lack of a convincing setting is my primary complaint. Cobb has written a novel with little context. We get very little background information on the characters and no explanation of their surroundings. Using clues throughout the novel, I was finally able to piece together that the setting is supposed to be a future ravaged by avian diseases, drought, and apparently severe oil shortages. But, the novel takes place in Colorado, i.e. the American Southwest, so through most of the book I thought that the references to deserts, etc. was just because of the climate, not because of some larger problem. Doesn't that part of the country have droughts pretty regularly? In all, everything about this world is just a little bit worse than what is normal for our times, so I was never sure if it was supposed to be set in the future, or if that's just the way it is in that part of the country and I just didn't know it.The characters within this novel seem to exist only within this novel. In other words, they read like characters in a novel, not like real people. We get almost no background information for most of the characters, which makes it more difficult to understand them. One of the main characters, for example, is a girl named Ruby. She's seventeen, has an overprotective (religious zealot) father... and a baby. Surely there is a story there. There's no mention of the baby's father or how all that went down until toward the end of the novel when we find out his last name. To me, it was difficult getting to know Ruby within the novel without knowing more about her experiences before the novel began. Most of the characters read the same way. As a matter of fact, the character about which we know the most, Ward, is the one that I liked the best.I do think the overall concept of this novel was interesting and worth exploring. The image of ornithologists tracking the numbers of birds as the environment entrophies is a stirring one. The decline in the bird populations indicate future problems for humans. However, I was not satisfied with the way Cobb approached it.
eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gripping read about people dealing with the uncertainties of life in a ecopocalyptic world rife with drought, disease and uncertainty. The story follows several groups of people as their stories parallel and intersect, but centers mainly on Ruby, a 17-year-old single mother, who lives at home with her baby & her father: a one-legged one-eyed war vet turned preacher who is fierce in both his faith, his opinions and his love for his family. This character in particular repeatedly surprised me, and I love that. There is a really great cast of characters in this book, including a horse-cop on the right side of the law, a brutish Arapaho who falls in love, a lonely ornithologist and a sleazy polygamist pawn-shop owner who rules the town. Great story, great characters, and wonderful writing to boot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago