Tuesday, February 11, 2014

BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig **REVIEW**


(I bought this book.)

Miriam Black knows when you will die.
Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But 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.

Starkly original and freshly grim, Blackbirds is a unique urban fantasy featuring a terrified young woman trying to outrun herself and her "gift" of seeing people's deaths in crystal-clear detail. Miriam has been living on the run since she was a young teenager, and her life is really rough and scary.  She sees herself as a scavenger to Death, taking only what she needs to keep running.  In the past she's tried to prevent the deaths she sees, but she only ends up being the catalyst to the death, creating a sense of fatalism and inevitability.  She's existing, but not living.  The book doles out snippets of Miriam's past, right before her ability manifested, and it's as mean and sad and grim as her current life.
Miriam is a quirky woman, and when she talks the words flow out of her like lava from a volcano.  The steady, thick river of stream-of consciousness profanity and uncensored thoughts, chock-full of brutal honesty and a fatalistic perspective is almost involuntary, and I thought this was a glimpse of Miriam's true self that she normally kept bottled up.
Blackbirds is really the chronicle of Miriam waking up from her self-centered, self-pitying life of horror and grief, and acknowledging a connection with another human being.  What I loved is that Miriam doesn't turn chipper, kind, or gracious. This is a girl with a brittle, rough center to match her exterior.  But her journey from passive witness to fighting participant, also mirrors her first real attempt to confront herself and what's inside of her.  She's slowly figuring out that she can't control it, but she can control how she reacts to her gift.
As tough and harsh as Blackbirds is, I found it compelling and fascinating.  I had to keep reading to learn about Miriam's past, and to find out how she was involved in her vision of Louis' death.
A unique, powerful and original book - highly recommended.

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