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Literary Braun

Review: Blackbirds

If there's one thing I love in fiction, it's watching a character struggle. I love seeing them fight through almost impossible situations against enemies even more formidable than they are. Some times I need a break from typical Happily Ever After stories to read something dark and unforgiving. Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds definitely fulfills that desire. Even from the first page, the story sets a tone that will either make you love it or hate it. There's not much room for middle-ground, and the content is truly disturbing at some points. Personally, I loved it. Blackbirds is easily one of the best novels I've read so far this year, and is an excellent beginning to what I believe will be a truly memorable series. A wild, unstoppable roller coster from start to finish, I can't think of a single moment that bored me. There was nothing I could predict, and it was a true effort to stop reading and return back to the drag of Real Life. 

 

How can you not love this cover?! It's so beautiful!

 

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.
 

 

***

While I won't delve too much into the story for the sake of preserving its awesomeness, I will say that the story opens with Miriam finding herself in situations that are more complex than even she believes. From there, she meets strange new aquaninstences– both friendly and dangerous– and endures truly horrific dreams that could lead her to a life-changing decision. 

 

I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this book. Even from the first page, I knew it was special. Different. As wild as Miriam. The story is action-packed and intense, and even the "slow" bits were far from tame. The fight scenes were nail-biting and brutal, exactly how I like them.  This is a novel that doesn't hold back, not even once. It's bold and abrasive, and the language is definitely not for the faint of heart. Looking back, I have to say that the novel has a pretty bleak outlook on life, but I found it refreshing. No punches pulled. "It is what it is."

 

All the characters are fantastically written. I adored Louis and was fond of Ashley when he wasn't being a jackass (he had a kind of an arrogant charm that I couldn't ignore). The villains were definitely memorable, if horrific for what they did– and were willing– to do. That being said, the showstopper is of course Miriam. She's impossible to forget, given how brash and aggressive she is. At first, she seems like walking sin. But the more you read, the more you understand how damaged and agonized she is. I loved looking into her head, and knowing that there was so much more to her. The things she would say shocked even me, but I wouldn't want her any other way.

 

Even with all these positives, I found one trait that outshone everything, even Miriam– the writing itself. Absolutely stellar, even with its grittiness and crude word choice. Wendig masterfully wove his words together into a sharp tableau that sticks in your mind and haunts you for days. 

 

That tableau also featured some of the most brutal dream sequences I've ever read in fiction. Some that had even me shuddering. Wendig carefully chose his words, and while his descriptions aren't overly long, the words he uses paint vivid pictures that make the horror and gravity of Miriam's situation both stronger and more horrifying given their context.

 

I want to say that I would recommend Blackbirds to everyone, but I can't, because it's not for everyone. Like American Psycho, Sandman Slim, or the John Cleaver novels, the content could be a little too shocking for some readers. I'm not kidding when I say the book doesn't hold back in its harshness, and some of the fight scenes are cringe-inducing. But if you're willing to give it a shot, to take the dive and allow yourself to walk on the wild-side with Miriam, do it. You will not regret it, and you'll never forget it. 

 

Amy