Review: Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig

One thing I intend to include in this blog are reviews of books, movies and other sorts of entertainment that interest me. This is my first one and the first serious review I’ve ever attempted to write. I’ve added this review to the Amazon page for Blackbirds but I wanted to include it here as well. After all, Looking for a Rabbit Hole needs content!

The Review:

If I were to write a one-sentence review of Blackbirds it would be something like this:

Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig, is one heck of a tense, terrifying ride.

A longer, but short review:

I loved this book and would recommend it to almost everyone. There is a lot to like about it, including the characters, the story and the ideas running around in it. It has to be said that there is also a little that some may find unacceptable. If you absolutely cannot read something liberally laced with profanity, a bit of truly horrific violence and a smattering of straight up gore then you should probably stay away. For everyone else: buy and read it now!

Now, if you’d like a more fleshed out review continue on:

Before I talk about the really great aspects of Blackbirds let me write a bit for those not automatically and completely turned off by the potential “problems” I mentioned but perhaps a little wary.

The profanity is often creative and entertaining. It’s also believable. Characters who would talk rough, do. Characters who wouldn’t, don’t. The horrific violence is horrific and the gore is gross – there’s no getting around that – but it isn’t gratuitous. It serves its purpose and its purpose is more than to simply be sick or twisted. This is a story about a girl who foresees death after all, and death is most often neither pretty nor nice. Mr. Wendig isn’t pulling his punches here, but I don’t see any good reason he should.

I’ll admit I found myself uncomfortable at times reading this book, but I consider that a feature, not a flaw. In fact, this book may end up being the literary equivalent of a gateway “drug”, if you’ll pardon the expression, for me. I’ll probably be more open to other books with some horror elements to them than I would have been before; this book was great – other books with similar content could be as well.

Oh, and those really good elements? Let’s get back to them, yes?

First: The characters are great. Miriam Black is fantastic, unique and as fully fleshed out as one could hope for in a main character. She demands your attention right from the beginning and doesn’t let go. The supporting staff is an ensemble of memorable characters who all have their own stories, problems, personalities, quirks and blemishes. You will remember these people when you’ve finished with this book.

Second: The story. It’s fast paced and its interesting. You will want to keep reading once you’ve started and I found it hard to put down. There is no bloat here. No boring bits. When you start reading Blackbirds you dive straight into the story. Don’t expect 50 pages of back-story and set-up. No, in this book you hit the ground running, and don’t stop. Sure, you will get the back-story but Mr. Wendig parcels it out in tasty little morsels of interludes between chapters so that story and back-story are unveiled together in just the right proportions.

Finally, Blackbirds will get you thinking. Yes, it’s just a story. A fast-paced, scary, grab-you-and-don’t-let-go story. But. It’s also a story about death and fate. Those are some pretty big ideas packed into a couple of single-syllable words. We all face death, and at sometime we probably all wonder how much control we can really have over it, or the lives we live until death comes. Miriam Black has to face death and fate head on and while she does you would be hard pressed not to ponder those forces in your own life. If you’re like me you’ll still be thinking about them well after you turn the last page of Blackbirds.

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Blackbirds is written by Chuck Wendig and published by Angry Robot. It clocks in at 257 pages and is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound.

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