April 16, 2012

Early Review: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Series: Miriam Black 1
Fomat: ARC (NetGalley)
Release Date: April 23, 2012

Purchase: Amazon
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.

Dark. Disturbing. Unfiltered. Coarse.

These and everything everything associated with the above adjectives are not enough to describe BLACKBIRDS. The emotional attachment runs deep and the totality of the story is bigger than 354 PDF pages, an hour and a half afternoon walk wasn't enough for me to digest everything.
I see when skin touches skin. I get the vision once [and I] also know when. Year, day, hour, minute, second. 
Miriam Black gets death visions and these abilities made her into a lying, stealing, damaged, chain smoking but wonderful heroine and the irony is, she's not trying to be anybody's hero.  Miriam is not someone you fall in love with in fact she doesn't have a lot of good qualities to make one admire her. But that same crassness is what made her endearing to me. Her story is a naturalist depiction of her situation, you either love or hate her, there's no in-between. I sympathize with her pain and isolation but I also admire her candor in dealing with her fate, her reaction to her fight/flight reflex is interesting. Miriam's personal relationships alone will make Freud spin in his grave let alone her paranormal abilities. Her experiences are disturbing and far from being fictional: getting beat up, a nomad, harassed, hitchhiking, and being around all those dead bodies you counted down to the last second! I'm surprised she haven't checked herself in a mental ward yet. Those and seeing all those deaths and dream haunts can take its toll, having that power but without the ability to change it is beyond frustrating and a feat she gave up on a long time ago.
Her body is no temple. It might have been once, but it lost its sanctified status long ago (just over eight years ago, that wicked little voice reminds), with too much blood spilled at the altar.
This is hardly a romance novel but Miriam's relationship with truck driver Louis and pretty boy Ashley fits perfectly with the plot. I like how Louis and Ashley's characters contrast with Miriam's, their personas aren't tailored for romance or any imaginings of a happily ever after in fact it has TRAGEDY written all over it. You can't even call it drama rather it's a disturbing portrayal of damaged people who are beyond human help.

Louis is not exceptional, he's a widower and his wife's death brought him a lot of pain and misery. Meeting Miriam gave him somewhat of a mission, he wanted to help/fix her but ended up getting romantically entangled with her instead. His unconditional kindness and his misconstrued concern over Miriam's welfare became his pitfall, his involvement with her was a balm for his loneliness but it also messed him up in so many ways. But their unlikely relationship saved them and in each other they found comfort and security. Louis and Miriam complement each other so I'm eager to see how their partnership will evolve in Mockingbird. Will their attempt on blissful partnership succeed? Will Louis resent Miriam? How is Miriam's past going to interfere with her relationship to Louis?

Ashley on the other hand is who you'd expect and probably want Miriam to consort with. He's a handsome romp in the sack, he's street smart and a good partner for Miriam's nomadic ways. His greed soon caught up with him putting Miriam in trouble which kick started the entire conflict of the story. And though Ashley's role in Blackbirds had a grotesque end, I know that his involvement in Miriam's life is far from over. Another arc that I am eagerly anticipating in Mockingbird.

I enjoyed this so much because it's a "thinking" novel, it has so many layers I was at a loss on how to process and convert into words what I experienced reading this for 6 hours. First of all, I like Chuck Wendig's writing, he writes screenplays too so that style proved to be advantageous in telling Miriam's tale. He's straightforward, he's cold and obviously graphic in describing the events. He doesn't do filigreed words and leaves very little to the imagination. He paints the picture exactly the way he sees it, jacked up with all the emotions to give us readers one fantastic head trip. The alternating past and present presentation of events helped tell the characters' back stories, even the bad guys weren't spared from sharing their vulnerabilities.
I cut him apart. Starting out and moving in, so he was alive for much of it. Fingers whittled down. Toes. Fillets of calf. thigh, bicep. Tow hundred pounds of flesh. And buckets of blood settling into the grout lines of the kitchen tile. I put his bones in trash bags. I put his meat into the garbage disposal. (Uncomfortable enough? This barely scratched the surface.)
There are serious emotions and deep psychological issues involved with the characters but Miriam, Louis and Ashley deals with it in the most troubling and detached way imaginable. They've accepted their respective fates and have stopped fighting it which I find both tragic and interesting. Even if the story has some paranormal elements to it, you'll find these demented characters familiar and CWendig made use of that familiarity for us to connect with the characters and their stories.

I believe this review doesn't do it justice so I suggest that you go and pick up the book and experience for yourself what BLACKBIRDS is. This is scheduled for release on April 23.


  1. Looks really cool, like a Tim Burton thing!

  2. I'm a sucker for boys named proper historical names that have been taken over by girls, so this is on my TBR!

  3. Yes it is a wonderful novel, if you like dark psycho-thriller stuff you'll love this!

  4. I am rather intrigued .....when Braine and Cimmaron hand out Suped Ups!! My tbr pile goes *thud* and there lands another book. I fear I am going to be 200yrs old , but I will get through this pile.

    The first 4 words of your review...WOW!!! You sold me then and there!!

    I had not heard of this chappy before..further investigation is needed.....Book Detective hat is donned!

    Thanks for sharing and bringing us unique books:D:D

    I love it when readers find a gem:D


    1. It's in NG. You should read it, the book has a movie feel to it in terms of the scenes and edits mainly because Wendig is a screenwriter so his visuals are vivid. This is a wonderful read, you shouldn't pass this up.


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