Entries in Chuck Wendig (11)

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Tuesday
Feb202018

The Raptor and the Wren

I've finally cleared enough backlog from my life to get back to a proper reading schedule and I just finished this newest release from Chuck Wendig. This is the 5th (and penultimate) book in the Miriam Black series and it packs a serious punch.

If you like foul-mouthed, hard-hitting anti-heroines, then this series is worth checking out. Start with Blackbirds. The series only gets better from there.

I didn't find anything about this book terribly shocking. Wendig does a good job of laying the groundwork for the plot's many twists. And while I wasn't surprised by what happened, I was caught off guard by how. And when. And by who. It's got a wallop of a final page. I hate that I have to wait a year for the final book's release!

Monday
Oct162017

From a Certain Point of View

So this is a Star Wars anthology, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever loved EVERY SINGLE STORY in an anthology with multiple contributors. There are no duds. It's so nice to see an anthology get the star-power and funding it deserves. If you love Star Wars, you will love this book. There is something for everyone.

So there are 40 short stories (one for every year since A New Hope came out) all telling the story of Episode IV from the POV of side characters. Some of them are obvious, like stories featuring Yoda and Obi-Wan. Some of them less so, like the one told by the trash compactor monster (which is fantastic, btw).

Some of my favourite authors are in this one (Delilah Dawson, Daniel Jose Older, Nnedi Okorafor, Chuck Wendig) which was why I bought it, but I'm glad I did. It's made me want to watch the movie again (when I get some time). And I will definitely be looking at it differently.

These stories are powerful and well told and intriguing and give you the plight of the Rebels vs the Death Star from regular folks, Rebels and Imperials in the background, and a few scoundrels too. There are stories to make you laugh, like Older's told by one of the "not the droids you're looking for" Stormtroopers. Stories to make you cry, like one told from Aunt Beru's POV, or doomed Rebels, or yes, even the trash compactor monster.

If you're a Star Wars fan, definitely pick up this book. You won't be sorry.

Friday
Jun232017

Empire's End

So this is the final book in Wendig's Star Wars Aftermath trilogy and it's excellent! Have a peek at my review of the first two books. This book is similar in style and pacing. Where book one was all about Norra and her team and book two was mostly about Han and Chewie, this one was a little more balanced between characters we know and love and the new crew.

It's odd, I think that while Norra is the main character, Sinjir definitely has the most growth over the course of the trilogy. And I love that he's still snarky and dangerous, but more obviously one of the good guys by the end.

So this book clears up exactly how and why Jakku is littered with Imperial spaceships in The Force Awakens. We get a hint at the end of the Empire and the earliest beginnings of the First Order (and why it's called that in the first place).

Wendig did an excellent job with all of the characters, to the point that I was still oddly, in a small way, cheering for Rae Sloane. Her tenacity is unparalleled. She and Norra are excellent foils for each other, and the few times they interact (battling or otherwise) are fantastic.

This book was good, but it left me wanting so much more. I want to know more about that tiny Imperial fragment that blooms into the First Order. And what about Ben Solo's transformation to Kylo Ren? And just where the heck was Luke through all of this? And I'm curious about Mon Mothma because she has such a huge role in this trilogy, but was absent from TFA.

But the trilogy wrapped up it's main points, primarily the end of the Empire (as we know it, anyway). I definitely recommend this for Star Wars fans. I'm planning on checking out a couple of other Star Wars novel tie-ins: Phasma by Delilah Dawson and Bloodline by Claudia Gray.

Monday
Jun052017

Aftermath & Life Debt

I am 2/3 of the way through Chuck Wendig's Star Wars trilogy and I love it as much as the movies! Since I read book 1 and 2 so close together, I'm just going to review both at the same time. Short review: They're awesome and if you love Star Wars you should read them.

On to the meatier review. These books are fast-paced and read like you're watching one of the films. Wendig includes little Interludes that are signature to his writing style (along with the 3rd person present tense, more on that soon). The Interludes seem, at first, to be random. Some of them might be (I haven't read the final book). But many of them tie into events that happen later. Some Interludes from book 1 foreshadow events in book 2.

Okay, so these books have been knocked a lot online. Mostly by bigoted trolls because Wendig *gasp* includes LGBTQ+ characters in the books. One of the main characters is gay. Some minor characters are too. There's a non-binary character. It's no big deal. Just like real life, FFS. If you can't handle LGBTQ+ characters, delete your account and stop reading my blog.

Another criticism is the writing style. And those criticisms are legit, I guess. As I've mentioned, Wendig uses these Interludes that can seem random, but fit the book either in theme or in terms of foreshadowing. They also tend to ratchet up the tension. The 3rd person present tense throws people too. I don't have a problem with it. It's like 1st person POV, but honestly I find it reads smoother.

Wendig's writing style allows for a tense, fast-paced story that makes it hard to put the books down. Oh, the sleep I lost getting through these first two books!

And just what the heck are these books about, anyway? The Aftermath trilogy takes place months after the destruction of the second Death Star. It examines the Rebel Alliance's rocky transition to the New Republic and the Empire's desperate bid to cling to power. It also, through the Interludes, focuses in on the galaxy's regular citizens and how the war affects them.

Wendig presents all of this, action and social commentary, with a balanced, nuanced approach. To the point where I occasionally found myself cheering for the villain, the Empire's Admiral Rae Sloane.

The large part of the plot focuses on the band of characters rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her son Temmin "Snap" Wexley, his refurbished (and psychotic) battle droid Mr Bones, rogue Imperial Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus, and bounty hunter Jas Emari. There are plenty of cameos of beloved characters like Wedge, Ackbar, Leia, Chewie and Han in the first book and major rolls for them in the second.

In the first book, Aftermath, I loved getting to know the new characters, the ragtag bunch out to unravel what the Empire is up to. Mr Bones delivers some excellent black humour to relieve the tension. And the biting banter between Sinjir and Jas is excellent. I love the chemistry between them.

In the second book, Life Debt, Han and Leia get much bigger roles and Wendig completely nails the character voice. Honestly, guys, it's like watching the movies. I could "hear" Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher while I was reading.

There isn't a whole lot I can say to criticize the books since I'm not a bigot and I love Wendig's writing style. It did kind of bother me that the first book just sort of stopped; it didn't wrap up quite enough for my liking. But then I just immediately began reading the second book and it just didn't matter. But I also didn't like the way Norra "died" so many times. It felt a bit cheap.

But those are such minor concerns as to be hardly worth mentioning.

I am flailing around waiting for my hold on the final book to come in at the library.