Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig

mockingbird coverPsychic Miriam Black returns in Mockingbird, the second book in the series named for her. As the novel opens, Miriam is attempting something she hasn’t done for years – she is trying to settle down and live with Louis. She even has a real job, working as a checkout girl at a grocery store in Long Beach Island. But it isn’t long before Miriam becomes restless, and starts looking for a way out. Hoping to appease her psychic powers, which are clamoring to be used, Miriam’s boyfriend Louis takes her to meet a teacher at a school for troubled young girls on his trucker route. The teacher, Katey, is convinced she is dying, and Louis hopes Miriam can use her ability to give Katey some answers. Things are never that easy for Miriam, though, and while she is at the school she bumps into a young girl and sees her shocking and terrifying murder. Not even Miriam can ignore this, and the unwilling psychic is set on a quest to uncover a murder plot and save the lives of teenagers almost as messed up as she is.

In Mockingbird, Wendig brings us another snarky, drama-filled story centering around the reluctant heroine Miriam. As Miriam learns more about her powers, we learn more about her world. Miriam doesn’t just randomly see the death of everyone she touches – she has been given this “gift” by a higher power that expects her to use it, whether she likes it or not (for her, usually not). We don’t know much about the higher power, aside from the fact that is has a obsession with birds, using them as its messengers. It isn’t some cute, benevolent higher power that manifests with bright lights and the scent of roses. It’s violent and demanding. It may be trying to save lives, but it doesn’t have much regard for Miriam’s in the process. I like this switch for the norm in fantasy writing. Miriam sees death. It wouldn’t make sense for whatever is controlling this power to be calm and polite. Instead  it manipulates and threatens Miriam into doing what it wants. It’s dark and a little terrifying and I like it.

We get a smidgen of this novel told from Louis’s point-of-view. Truthfully I don’t remember if we got any of his perspective in the last novel but I am like 95% sure we did not. For me, this was a nice break to get out of Miriam’s head, which is a very scary place. But Louis’s story is still dark and tragic, and leaves the reader wondering whether Louis would be better off if he just let Miriam leave him. Why is Louis so desperate to stay with Miriam despite how badly she treats him? Perhaps this question will be answered as the series continues.

3 stars

3 stars out of 5 for Mockingbird. The plot is creepy and surprising. I saw part of the ending coming, but definitely not all of it. I love when authors can surprise me. Unfortunately I don’t think this book series is for me. The stories I like. But Miriam Black is just too harsh and obnoxious for me to get emotionally invested in her. It’s not that I don’t like reluctant heroes, and sometimes I can even get behind protagonists who are not likable. I liked Jalan in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen’s War series, and he was an ass. Maybe it’s because Miriam is a woman that’s an ass? I bet there’s some long, psychological name for not minding a male protagonist who is a jerk, but disliking a female. Although, Miriam is not the same sort of terrible person as Jalan. I don’t know. I haven’t had enough coffee yet to complete this self-analysis. I just know that I won’t be continuing with this series. I do intend to seek out Chuck Wendig’s other writing, though, like the books he wrote in the Star Wars universe. Like I said, I like the books, I just don’t like Miriam. I still recommend this series for fans of urban fantasy who don’t mind a brash, profane, obnoxious heroine.

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