Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig | Book Review

Miriam Black #1
First Published: 2012
Kindle
Adult, Urban Fantasy
Rating:
Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But then she hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, and she sees in thirty days that Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and Miriam 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.
A VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING--AND VIOLENT TALE

First of all, I would not recommend this to people who don't like cursing and violence, unless you're looking to get out of your comfort zone. This is not something I am overly comfortable with but I am okay when it's character driven (which it is, in here) and not used just for shits and giggles (see, it's making me curse as well!)

When I first saw Blackbirds, I was captivated by it's cover - which greatly reminds me of the drawing style for The Raven Boys, one of my favorite books ever. Then, I read the synopsis and I knew I had to have it. It didn't hurt that the entire series was on sale. So one-click I did.

My desire to read this book is what brought me back from my slump. I had to finish those books I was stuck on so I could move on to this one. And then I started it and I was... taken a back. In an interesting way, not a bad one. Because of three things;

1. THE WRITING STYLE 

The writing style is very straight to the point. This means that you get to hear of brain matter splattering and bowls leaking and a host of other unpleasant things. It's very in your face about it - telling you it's not going to beautify it, it's not going to be gentle, not going to let you escape it.

And I wanted to escape the images and sounds and *shudder*. But just like how Miriam can't escape it, neither can you the reader. You have to suffer along with her. The book constantly keeps you uncomfortable, because you have to be.

2. MOTHER EFFIN' MIRIAM BLACK

Speaking of Miriam, she's not the most likable of characters. She can see how people die and exactly when, and she gave up. She freakin' gave up. Because of one sour attempt to prevent death. Of course I get why. I get it! She's had a shit life, and the one time she tries to do something truly good it blows in her face big time. But this just illustrates how she's not a hero. But then again, is she supposed to be?

Miriam is such a gray character. Honestly, I don't like her at all. She's crass and self-destructive and kind of condescending. She's cruel at times and her self hatred doesn't stop her from doing despicable things, but rather enables her. And she's sunken herself so deep in self-pity, she uses every small thing as an affirmation of her belief on fate, stuck in one single place.

It is what it is.

but is it?

There are so many moments in this book that I wanted to shake her. Wanted to shout at her - TRY HARDER! Why are you giving up after one word? Why are you accepting this? Why are you being this mean? WHY ARE YOU OKAY WITH THIS!?

If it wasn't for the visions she saw--visions that proved she did care, despite herself--I might've actually hated her. 

But I think this is part of the point, in a way. Because these books are Miriam's journey. By the end of this book we can already see a big change in her. We can already see a hint of where this is going. By the end of the journey, two, three, four books into the future, I think we might even love her, despite her flaws. 

3. THE CHAPTER'S STRUCTURE 

Now, this is probably my favorite thing about this book, because I think it was brilliantly done. This book works on two (possibly three?) timelines and jumps between points of view at exactly the right time. 

Wendig uses his different points of view and timelines expertly to get the most out of them. This is a weird comparison, but it brought to mind City of Bones for me, where there were two small parts of Jace's point of view all of the sudden and it threw me off big time because I didn't quite understand why or how and it was so unbalanced it jarred. 

But here, we might only get one or two chapters from Harriet's point of view, but they're exactly where they need to go for maximum impact. They say exactly what they need to both progress the plot, scare the shit out of us and add to the story. Heck, her backstory bits might be my favorite of the book - they're morbidly hilarious, which is the last thing I thought I'd say about this horrifying lady. 

And if I think the usage of povs was fantastic, the juggling of the timelines was phenomenal as well. Between every few chapters on Miriam's present, we got little interludes of the past, when she was having an interview with a collage boy about her abilities. This is where we got some much needed backstory. 

Those always cut at exactly the right moment to make us want to see the next bit of the interview, while always separating between two points in the main plot-line that you're bound to be invested in. So suspenseful, with (seemingly) very little effort! And they always add new (important) tidbits that little by little unravel some of the mystery that is Miriam Black in the present. 

Am I going to read the next book? Absolutely. Am I going to be thinking about this book and the questions it raises about predestined fate, death and life and cheating destiny--if there is such a thing? Heck yes. 

This book is going to stay with me for a while. Which is why I had so much to say about it.

Note: Click here to read an in-depth look on the rules of death in Blackbirds, which was one of the things that bothered and intrigued me most about this novel. 
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