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 he will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. No matter what she does, she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
©2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.; ©2012 Chuck Wendig
"Blackbirds is a story of loss and what it takes to make things right. It’s a story about fate and how sometimes, if we wrestle with it hard enough, maybe we can change it. It’s the kind of book that doesn’t let go even after you’ve put it down.” (Stephen Blackmoore)
I have been following Chuck Wendig for a few years now, and I have come to enjoy his writing style immensely. The story of Blackbirds is dark, following the story of a troubled young woman who can see when you die, and can't do anything to change it. The writing is fluid, the characters are interesting, and the plot is riveting.
My only critique is that the main character sounds much like Chuck, or at least sounds like the voice he presents during interviews and on his blog. This is not a bad thing, per say; but, it distracted me from remembering that the character was in fact a troubled woman, and not the middle aged self proclaimed pen monkey that entertains almost daily.
Blackbirds is the second Chuck Wendig book I have tried to read. The first was Blue Blazes but I abandoned it. Chuck Wendig, however, comes highly recommended from multiple sources I respect. Blackbirds is the story of a young woman who sees the way people die if she comes in skin to skin contact with them. She has tried to fight fate in the past to save people, but it has always knocked her down and put her in her place.The book is a paranormal thriller. What could you possibly not like…and what can you like?
Chuck is great at building a descriptive world. You can smell, see, hear, and unfortunately taste it. This world is one of dirty hotel rooms, dirtier dive bars, and hitchhiking a small town grimy America. You might not want to experience the taste that goes with that. The book hooks you and is action packed. You need to know what happens next.
That being said his characters are not lovable. They are psychopaths, sociopaths, con artists with attachment disorder, etc. I know a Miriam, she didn't see people’s deaths, but as I experienced Wendig’s crass scavenger that will do/did everything in her power to push people away, I cringed. I recognize I probably have some negative transference, but Miriam’s still hard to like. When I say she’s crass I don’t mean she uses some profanity, this isn't a common use of typical profanity. This is very creative thought out ignorant descriptions in an extremely ignorant and vulgar fashion. It, however, is purposeful and serves the storyline. But...this is not for children, or the faint of heart. It’s also rather violent.
Emily Beresford did not do a bad job, in fact, I think in many ways she may have captured Miriam's crass spirit a little to well. I had a literal negative physical reaction to the way she said some of Miriam's lines. Remember, Wendig created her this way. I did, however, end up getting this on whispersync and chose to read most of it.
I will again say it is a well written, good thriller. It has twists I didn't see and a luke warm uplifting ending. Maybe Wendig is saving that for a series finale but I just don’t quite think uplifting happy rainbows is his style. I haven’t decided if I’m reading the next book. I feel dirty. I think I will take a shower and decide later.
Miriam Black has the power (or curse) of knowing exactly when and how someone will die. The moment she touches someone, she sees a vision of their death and knows to the hour when it will happen. And she can't change it - she's tried. As with any story about time travel or precognition, the story comes around to the inevitable question of causality. Miriam knows, from past experience, that trying to interfere with someone's death just means she ends up playing a role in it. Then she meets someone whose death she really wants to prevent, and the question becomes, is fate actually immutable, and will she cheat it?
The most compelling aspect of Wendig's writing, and probably the most annoying, is Miriam's voice. She is a cynical, chain-smoking harlot with a deathwish and a mouth that can make a sailor blush. We get dribs and drabs of her background - an uptight, puritanical mother who naturally turned her daughter into the sinful, rebellious manifestation of everything she was trying to prevent, and the crushing burden of seeing people die over and over, peacefully in bed or violently squished between vehicles, young and old, whether she knows them or not, and finally, the death that she thinks earned her her "gift."
None of this really makes Miriam likable. She doesn't want to be likable. She revels in being unlikable. She's taken up a vagrant lifestyle, following people around when she knows they're going to die soon, and stealing their stuff, a psychic vulture. She runs into a nice guy named Louis, a truck driver, and a not so nice guy named Ashley, a con artist. Ashley figures out what Miriam can do, and Ashley also turns Miriam on. Unlike sweet, gentlemanly Louis.
At this point, all I could say was, "Run, Louis!" but obviously that's not the way the story is supposed to go.
Miriam is brought to the attention of a creepy bald drug dealer and a murderous pair of assistants, thanks to Ashley, and so Louis is dragged into the situation, and so Miriam has to figure a way out of the visions she's already seen.
Props to Chuck Wending for an ending that did not feel like a cheat, and for a witty, funny, profane voice. But Miriam's awfully hard to like, and while I'm somewhat interested in where her story will go next, I can only take her in small doses.
Mobile and Web developer, Audible member since 2004. Trend towards mystery-thrillers just for fun, but read most everything of substance (i.e. no romances here).
Beyond the stunning beautiful cover art...the story started out great, but has a major flaw in the main character. Without giving too much away, would Miriam REALLY stay with such an absolute jerk? Even when threatened with what he did? I doubt it. If Miriam is really this femme-fatale-road-weary-general-badass, I seriously doubt she'd let anybody push her around. It felt like a cop-out on behalf of the author...like he couldn't figure out a more plausible motivation. Beyond that, I found Wendig's writing style enjoyable and the narrator was wonderful.
I imagine Chuck Wendig's pre-writing chats with himself went something like this, "How can I create the hottest, most bad-ass chick and put her into a story? I want to write a lead character that I'd totally want to be with."
So, with a healthy dose of Chuck Palahniuk's overwritten gross-out style and a basic template for a main character that is essentially nothing more than a potty-mouthed Stieg Larsson protagonist, we get Blackbirds. And with it, Chuck Wendig's dullard dream date, Miriam Black.
Not that this is only frat boy fiction--Wendig knows the word "macadam," after all, and uses it three times. Yes, this novel has aspirations beyond just giving us a hollow shell of a female lead who does very little other than rob people and talk tough. It courageously takes us into a world of stereotypical secondary characters (nearly all of whom are mawkish and cut-and-pasted from someone's tired rogue's gallery) and even ventures into the taboo territory of sexual violence against women and short, stocky lesbians.
Blackbirds has it all--including a massive plot gaffe towards the end of the book where Miriam is touched by an assailant and should be able to read his/her death but does not.
Miriam Black is a drifter. Like most drifters and scavengers, she is tough, preemptively aggressive, has an attitude and a filthy mouth. Unlike most people, she also has a terrible gift.
You won't find many nice happy people in Blackbirds. Miriam herself isn't particularly likable. The people she runs up against -- even less so. Hustlers, bikers, meth dealers and a (sadly underused) pair of assassins all leave scars on Miriam and her world.
The tone of the novel is gritty and the language is rated-R, but I ended up enjoying Wendig's storytelling style. A grungy mythical/ urban fantasy story that could easily be part of Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels. A little lacking in character development - the only really interesting character - an assassin woman - does not get enough attention, imho. All other characters a a bit 2-dimensional and somewhat clichéd.
This story flirts with ideas of fate, the futility of circumstance and supernatural 'fate controllers', but either the author didn't know where to take those concepts or just saving them for sequel, they all kind of fall flat.
Have not decided if i care to read the sequel, 'Mockingbird' yet.
If this was a better story. The performance I thought was great; the content, not so much.
I haven't, but I'll check her out now that I realize how good she is.
Maybe the main one. :O
I wanted a gritty, thrilling, modern urban novel. Wendig's writing makes it apparent that he's trying incredibly hard to fit into a genre that doesn't come naturally to him. As you recognized the effort it just felt fake. The story is pretty interesting, inventive even, but the writing leaves a lot to be desired. Bravo to Beresford's performance, though, as it saved the experience.
The shear amount of profanity, and coming from someone from the Bronx, that's saying something. Sometimes the gore was a little excessive too.
Cut out some of the cursing. The sexual content was ok because it had a point, it showed the fulcrum in a relationship. If it hadn't been included, the dynamic of the relationships would have had less impact. As for the excessive gore, why use 20 words when 2 would be sufficient.
Not much, she did a pretty good job.
none, they were all necessary to the plot.
maybe I'm just not cut out for the horror genre, the only author I've been able to really tolerate is Stephen King. If you're a fan of gore and horror, this is a really good book.
"Hated it at first but then was gripped"
I really didn't enjoy this at the beginning and rolled my eyes with the cliched main character and her excessive 'potty-mouth', which usually doesn't offend me in the least. But when I stuck with it with the early intention of writing a scathing review (bad, I know), I got drawn into what is actually a very good story and ended up unable to put it down - I give it five stars for this reason, because there have been few books I have listened to recently that have achieved this level of interest.
So my advice is stick with it, even if you don't like it at the beginning - it is worth it and you do actually discover that the main character is more complex than her initial impression suggests, and her predicament makes for an interesting, well-told and well-narrated story.
If you don't like profanity, then please don't pick this book up - it is chock-full of offensive language. *Cert 15*.
"Well done Chuck!"
Miriam Black is possessed of a unique talent: when she touches someone she sees exactly how and when they will die. What a hook for a story - I wish I'd thought of it - and what a great character Wendig has created to run with it. Blackbirds is a road trip through the sleazy underbelly of American Noir. A thoroughly enjoyable romp of a book. I look forward to the next in the series with great anticipation
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