This book review is of Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig.
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.
No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try
I love the protagonist, Miriam. Even though she is a hard-as-rocks, A-Grade bitch with some serious problems, she is awesome. She’s tough, but has her weaknesses. She’s seriously screwed up, but wouldn’t you be if you could see how people die the moment you touch them for the first time?
Despite this rock-hard exterior, Miriam exposes slivers of a gentle heart and the depth of her personality makes her really, really likeable. Contrast this fantastic protagonist with the lead character in Zoo City, my review is here, and Wendig’s mastery shines through.
Then there is the not insubstantial matter of the way Wendig writes. I have never read anything, by anybody else, that made me go “Holy shit! Did he just write that?”
Yes, yes he did. Because Chuck is “slicker than goose shit on a glass window” to borrow a phrase from the book (and hope like hell that I got it right).
There were a couple of moments in the book where I could see how things were going to be used. I wouldn’t call it predictable, but there was a hint of “I knew it!” that crept in every now and again. This didn’t irritate me nearly as much as it normally would though, because it was minor.
There is one scene in the novel that is SO IMPORTANT to the character development, it could answer some deep questions about why Miriam is like this, and whether or not she can do anything about it, and it doesn’t seem to be resolved in the story. I kept thinking “But what about the *bleep*?” I really hope this will be answered in Mockingbirds, the sequel.
The Bottom Line
Blackbirds is like a stick of dynamite wrapped up in cocoa leaves and doused in Tabasco sauce. It is fast paced, unforgiving and sometimes so far out on the edge that you can’t help thinking it’s going to fall off. And if it does, you are going along for the ride my friend.
Blackbirds will be commercially available from the end of April 2012. I highly recommend you read it the minute you can get your hands on it.
Chuck is posting excerpts of the novel on tumblr.