Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I wanted to like this book. I really did. And, OK, its not that I disliked the story. But dude. Miriam Black is NOT a likable character. Drove me a little nuts.

blackbirds wendig coverMiriam Black can see a person’s death when she touches them. Any sort of skin contact. Even a brush on the shoulder when moving through a crowd. She has spent the past several years taking advantage of this skill. She sees a person’s death, and if its soon enough, finds them at the moment of their death and robs them – just enough to stay alive and on the move, guilt free. After all, she doesn’t cause the deaths. But then she hitches a ride with a trucker named Louis. She shakes his hand, and discovers he dies in a month – and calls her name at the moment of his death. Miriam has never been able to prevent a death she has seen. But now, convinced she is the direct cause of Louis’s death, she knows she has to try.

I picked this up after I saw Chuck Wendig speak in Philly with Kevin Hearne and Fran Wilde. He was hilarious. I started following him on Twitter, where he is also hilarious and snarky. I expected his book to be snarky as well, and I was not disappointed. The story was great, but…

Let’s go back to me not liking Miriam. It’s not just that I personally didn’t like her. She wasn’t meant to be likable. I get that. She had a shitty life, and it turned her into an obnoxious, profane, gritty, heartless alcoholic. Well, not entirely heartless. She did want to save Louis. Most of the time – she waffled. I was invested in Miriam’s story, but not her. I wanted her to be less…annoying, I guess? I don’t know how to describe it exactly. I can’t say “nicer.” Blah, nice is such a terrible word. Kinder? More compassionate? Less gross? Less aggressive? Sigh. I just didn’t like her. I know theoretically you don’t have to like a character to like a book. But I do. And she got on my nerves.

As for the rest of the story, I liked it quite a bit. Even though I didn’t like Miriam, all the characters were fabulously written. Louis, the trucker, was such a genuinely nice guy. (I know, I know, I just said “nice” wasn’t a good word, but I swear it works here!) Ashley was a total douchebag who you hated almost the instant you met him, and then despised him once you got to know him. The creepy pseudo-cops gave me the actual chills. At the beginning of the novel, you couldn’t figure out how everything was going to tie together. But of course it did. And the snarky chapter titles were particularly fabulous.

I’m only giving this book 3 stars out of 5, because Miriam got on my nerves A LOT. But its aaaaaaaaaaaalmost a 4 out of 5.  And yeah, I’m definitely going to read the next Miriam Black book, Mockingbird. It looks interesting. I have a feeling the series is going to get better, and I think Miriam might grow on me.


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