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Friday
Jul112014

Blackbirds

I picked up this book by Chuck Wendig because I follow him on Twitter (and you should too! NSFW, but amusing!) and I genuinely like the guy. He dispenses some sage writing advice and is quite possibly the most creative cusser I've ever encountered. Those of you who know me well understand the weight of such a statement.

I liked Blackbirds. And it might make me a wee bit of a monster for admitting it, but I liked the heroine, Miriam Black. She reminds me of the very damaged sister of the heroine in that trilogy I swear I'm going to finish.

But I digress. Back to Miriam. Girl sees how you're going to die, and then does nothing about it. Well, she used to, but only ended up making things worse. Then she sees that she's going to be involved in someone's murder, and can't avoid getting involved no matter how hard she tries.

The story is dark and seedy and the characters are badly damaged. The pace is breakneck and I finished the damned thing in a couple of days.

There were a couple of points about the book that bothered me, all fairly minor things, and many of them the sort of thing only editors really notice. The use of the present tense bothered me now and then, though I think it works well for this particular story. The biggest thing was the voice. I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a long string of Wendig's Twitter posts rather than an actual novel. Maybe I'd feel differently about that aspect if I didn't follow him on Twitter.

It's not an entirely bad thing, either. The story has a unique voice. I just often felt that it sounded more like a middle-aged man than an early-twenties woman. But the writing style of fierce, concise sentences works well for the novel's pace.

I like the way Wendig uses interludes to weave past and present together. It helped to keep the tension ratcheted up to the point of nearly breaking. And then he hits you with a tiny little revelation right at the end and BAM! you've got to read the next book.

So yes, I enjoyed this read, polished it off in record time (for me) and have already bought the other two books in the series (though the mail gods, in a twist of cruelty, delivered the third book but not the second). I recommend this book, but also recommend stopping by Wendig's blog or Twitter to get a feel for his writing beforehand. I've seen a lot of reviews complain about the language, so be sure you're ready for that before you pick up Blackbirds.

I, for one, found the creative use of swearing to be delightful. Heh.

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