It’s finally here! You know, the super review:
- several points of views
- a handful of paragraphs
- one big, bad book that’s totally going down
Our first review: Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds.
See what we think, and then see what you think. If you’ve already read the book, we’d love to hear what you think. Hell, if you haven’t and you think you might, you can share that, too.
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.
Anthony I thoroughly enjoyed Blackbirds, but would have a hard time recommending it to many people. The story was well told and was a fast, engaging read, but parts of it felt clunky and clichéd. The main character, Miriam Black, is an understandably screwed up person. As the story unfolds and we find out about her past and what she can do we understand why she is the way she is and does what she does. What made no sense for me was how she became such a proficient fighter, I honestly thought she had super powers in the beginning of the story, but alas, it’s never explained. The characters seem to be your run-of-the-mill people: creepy looking psychotic bad guy, efficient and emotionless thugs, good looking bad boy, etc. Throw in some seedy motels, bar fights, and greasy diners and you’ve got the setting of most gritty independent movies ever made. Chuck Wendig does a good job at explaining some of this however. He gives you back story on almost every character in the book and you understand why they are the way they are. Mr. Wendig is also very over-the-top when it comes to swearing and a lot of it doesn’t work. At times it feels like a child stringing obscenities together simply to see how vulgar he can be. I understand that the swearing was meant to convey a sense of gritty realism to the story, but some of it just felt forced. I did enjoy the story immensely and found the opening of the book hooked me instantly. It was well told from beginning to end, had a nice fluid flow to it, and had me turning pages just to see what would happen next. Although I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone, I would recommend it to fellow book nerds because it was fun despite it’s few shortcomings.
Holly So where do I land on Blackbirds, or as I like to think of it: Fate versus Miriam’s Vagina? I really loved Miriam’s character and enjoyed Louis as a love interest. However, so much held me back from enjoying the actual story. I’m often irritated when authors overuse fate as a plot device, without considering its meaning, but I was fascinated by Wendig’s treatment of fate as an essential part of Miriam’s characterisation. Her feeling that she had no control over her life was amplified by her belief in the inevitability of fate in death. Unfortunately, as the story progressed I became uncomfortable by what being in control seemed to mean. Miriam is pretty kick-ass in the beginning, but she is also a character who simply responds to her surroundings. In attempting to fight fate, we might have assumed she would gain independence; her kick-assity magnified by freedom from fate’s control. Instead, she becomes dependent on a new idea of what fate might mean. Worse, we realise that fighting fate comes hand in hand a limitation in the sexual freedom we see expressed by Miriam in the beginning. Consider me bothered.
Jessa First, I must say that I adore the heck out of Chuck Wendig. He cusses like a drunken pirate and still manages to come across as both witty and intelligent. That said, I may have put him on a bit of a pedestal. I expected BLACKBIRDS to knock my socks off. It did not. It took me a minute to get into, and then I only liked it. I struggled to connect to Miriam. Sure, she’s badass and crazy, and I love that about her, but I had a hard time relating to her. I want to walk in the shoes of a main character, to feel her feelings and share her story. I could not do this in BLACKBIRDS. As for the character relationships, I thought Louis came across as more of a father figure than a love interest. I was left scratching my head, uneasy over Wendig’s intention to bring these two together. Furthermore, I was hoping for more to come with Ashley and Miriam, because as screwed up as he was, Ashley was a love interest I could have expected and understood. Though Wendig weaves a good story, I felt disconnected throughout, and BLACKBIRDS left me wanting.
Jalisa When I started reading Blackbirds, I couldn’t put it down. It’s got that train wreck appeal that just makes it impossible to look away from. While there were a few questions in the way of believability/explanation in the category of Miriam’s relationships and identity, none of them got in the way of me enjoying the story. It’s vulgar to the point that some plot happenings are cringe-worthy, but I think that’s just a part of the make-up of the novel, its public face, if you will. Deep down, I think the book touches on, if not purposefully, then subconsciously, a couple of shitastic norms in society that happened to make Miriam the character even possible: a misplaced sense of female, sexual propriety and that a woman’s best way of expressing freedom/control is through her sexuality. This last one seems especially likely with Miriam’s abstaining from sex with Louis—as if her choice of him would mean less if they did boink. Not true.
But if you’re reading Blackbirds the same way you watch an action flick, you’ll love it. And I did. I’d re-read just for the action scenes.
Ray “Ride me hard and put me away wet.”
In many ways, this is how I felt about Blackbirds. I was drawn in within the first few pages, and expected to not come up for air for ATLEAST a week. Everything was there, a big fat hook that snagged my jaw and set me to salivating. But… sooner than I thought, a few things appeared that made me set the book down for a bit, and made it somewhat hard for me to pick it back up. The main character reminded me right off the bat of a bounty hunter from a movie a few years back, which wasn’t a bad thing since I enjoyed the flick, but when I met the truck driver, my train got derailed. Don’t get me wrong, even from that point on I found some enjoyable, and memorable, moments, but it was never quite the same. Maybe it’s because I drive a truck, or maybe it’s because I’m a nice guy that wouldn’t try to pick up a drowned rat of a girl that looks like what my cat threw up last night. Either way, it was an entertaining read, I’m just not sure if it entertained me in the way it was meant to.
Nanette So, Blackbirds. Did I connect to this story? No. Is it a story I loved? No. I liked the book. LIKED! Though Miriam is a character who shows minor strength, I wasn’t willing to commit to her as a whole. Louis, well….yeah, he was a descent distraction. It took me longer to get through the book than I’m willing to admit. Setting it down on more than one occasion, but I powered through it because there are parts that hook you just when you’re about to give up. I just don’t feel like the book in a whole flowed as a page turner.
So, what do you think?
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Learn more about Blackbirds and Chuck Wendig at his site here.