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Book Review: Blackbirds, By Chuck Wendig

I’ve noticed this thing gets more hits the more I post, so I’m adding book reviews! I want hits. Lots of hits. I want this thing to be a bloody, knotty, busted-up mess. You know, figuratively.

So for fun, I’m going to start with Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, which I finished a few months ago and helped inspired my second novel manuscript. So, spoiler: I like the book. I actually LOVE the book and tried to force it on all my friends who, like me, don’t take kindly to that forcing thing. I own the other two books in the series, and am about to start on #2, Mockingbird.

Blackbirds is the story of Miriam Black, a cussing, drinking, homeless superbitch on the run from life in general. Why? Miriam happens to be cursed with the unique ability to foresee the death (when, where, how) of anybody she touches. Think about it. That would totally fuck you up, too.

The story doesn’t get very far before Miriam hitches a ride with Louis, a big ol’ teddy bear of a truck driver with secrets of his own. He’s a genuinely good guy, though, and when she touches him she is shocked to realize that she will be present at his death in the very near future. Despite her litany of flaws, Miriam is actually a moral person and wants only to get away from him for good, to have no part in his death. So she runs. She’s given up trying to save them; it doesn’t work.

The vision–and they’re always right–haunts her. It haunts her in the form of Louis reentering her life, along with a number of other unsavory but well-written characters, as she tries only to escape the truth of her existence. Miriam chain-smokes, drinks, fights, and runs through this gory but gripping adventure tale set in the Eastern United States.

Wendig is criticized by some readers for creating a female character who, put simply, is too masculine. Miriam says things like “suck my dick” and “fuck you” at seemingly inappropriate times, spits, smokes, drinks, and doesn’t care about being pretty. I reject this notion probably because I’m so, so sick of Sookie Stackhouses and Bella Fucking Swans every time I open a book. I’m sick of speshul snowflake Mary Sue/Marty Stus (Robert Langdon) with only faux-flaws (or real flaws that are not intended by the author to be seen that way but smart readers still find them HA). God, I hate that. But I digress. I cannot be the only (FEMINIST) woman on earth who says “suck my dick,” because in a way, that’s what feminism is all about.

The other major criticism for this book is that it’s too gory, which is legit. If you don’t like gore or can’t handle it, that’s cool and I get it. You should NOT read this book if that’s you. But if I catch you watching Breaking Bad or some Quentin Tarantino joint after you say it I will slap your lying face. (In fact, I want this book to be a movie and I want Tarantino to direct it, which is an impossible pipe dream if you know about QT’s methods).

Also don’t read it if you don’t like books; not everybody does, and that’s okay. The great Kanye West once said, “sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy…I would never want a book’s autograph. I’m a proud non-reader of books.” Right on, Kanye.

Conclusion: This book has good writing, and you will read it faster than you read most books. It’s fast paced, supernatural but not overly so, and has a solid plot. Oh, and it’s character-driven. Well-written characters. It’s full of gore, cursing, and some sex (but not like sexy sex). My favorite element, though, was Wendig’s knack for filthy, apt description (“piss-yellow light,” “Each [step] a troubled birth, an expelled kidney stone, a black widow’s bite,” etc.).

My esteemed boyfriend has a term he likes to use: “You know what they say about death metal and _________. It’s not for everybody.” I’d fill in that blank with Blackbirds, but as in death metal, those whom it is for? They fall pretty hard in love.

Next book review will be Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole…some time next week. Damn, I wish I had a spiffy pen name like that.