BlackBirds by Chuck Wendig (Miriam Black # 1)
I hadn’t met Miriam Black before. And I’m kicking myself that I haven’t made the acquaintance of this absolutely wonderful human being before. It’s such a visceral balls-to-wall experience being inside this psychotic chick’s head that once I got onto the drive on the wild side with Mr. Chuck Wendig, I never wanted out. Nonstop thrill ride without brakes. Reading Miriam Black and her exploits is like bungee-jumping off the volcano bungee at Pucano, Chile without the safety harness. You know it’s dangerous. But you are addicted to the thrill and the purest form of terror and that uncontrolled adrenaline rush. Wham!
What a book. I haven’t been consumed by a need to finish a book like this one before. It’s a psychological need, a deep craving delirious desire to see if Miriam and Louise survive. A want that surpasses your need for sleep, food and coffee. Am getting ahead of myself here. Visceral is the closest word that comes to the reading experience of Wendig’s writing. It grabs you by the scruff of your neck, slams you against the walls and holds you there until you have given up, gasping for breather. But not until you’ve read the book, consumed…subsumed by the same. And trust me when I say this, you feel exhilarated. Almost like that bungee-jump. Soaring high above the roaring flaming lava and reaching for the stars. You’ll feel just like that. Friggin awesome does not even come close.
Mr. Wendig – you’re probably the find of 2014 for me. Gratuitous sex, foul mouthed profanity that would make a sailor blush and hide, a deranged, completely whacko heroine whose mouth travels faster than the bullet trains from China and an absolutely fantastic premise about this psychic who can see your death when she touches you. It’s an explosive package you got there and make no mistake, there are no kid gloves for preparing you on this ride and definitely no safe landing here. It’s all black exhaust smoking, gravel crunching, burning-rubber, tire-skidding as you tear through the pages in a hurry to find out what happens in the end.
Forewarned is forearmed. But nothing prepares you to experience Chuck Wendig. It is crazy dark like a wormhole that sucks you in as you go from page one to three hundred eighty four in a headlong whooshing pace, rivalling the speed of sound. Guns, twisted psychos from your darkest nightmares, drugs (lots of meth!), a blood-red balloon and blackbirds. I cannot even begin to describe this book but if this were to be made into a flim, I know it has to be Mr. Quentin Tarintino who would bring this alive with full justice. Snarky black humour fly off the pages thick and fast, levitating what otherwise would have been an all dark, no stars plot. Chuck keeps it pretty tight – wound up closer than a choirboy’s backside as Mr. Wendig is wont to say and that is the beauty of the book. Along with the wanton prose that is like a rail-gun gone crazy loaded with the most ludicrous analogues, contemporary, real-life and absolutely shocking at the same time. Roach brown, baby-shit yellow. Who the hell but the mad sweltering genius of Wendig can think up such things!
So a little about the book. Miriam Black is a mess. A floater moving from motel to motel, hitchhiking through dusty highways much like she does through life as well. An aimless drifter who’s got this one gift. Or a curse. She knows when people would die. Right down to the exact nano-second as to when and how the death would happen if she makes physical contact with the “victim”. But as she calls herself, she is always just a witness and never a participant in these deaths. A crow on the battlefield, a chooser of the slain. That is until gentle giant Louis happens to her. A trucker, as much a drifter as herself, Louis comes across a real “nice” gentleman after all the creeps who just want to paw her. That is until he shakes hands with her and she witnesses Louis getting murdered. And the last name he calls out before he dies is hers. From here on, the story just takes off on jet-fuel and doesn’t pause for a break until the shuddering high strung intense climax.
With a sure-footed prose that is peppered with the most inventive foul language you can dream of (Call it edgy, raw, brutal, gritty whatever but be warned that the book contains some R++ filthy language that will make you want to rinse out your potty mouth with acid and then some.), a sizzling plot jets along at break-neck pace and draws you in further into the sinking quagmire as you go along. I’m not sure if it qualifies for Urban “fantasy” – but it sure falls into the “dark” “gritty” category.
It’s not a pretty book. It doesn’t have any redeeming quality about it. But that is probably the draw. We like to read about broken messed up human beings. Tough as nails on the outside but vulnerable and seeking that thin line of Silverlight in life. A book so dark with some extremely funny laugh out loud moments and a heroine you cannot help but cheer as she digs into some of the darkest places within the stygian depths of her shattered soul looking for answers. It will blow your mind guaranteed and you will be Chuck Wendig’s biggest cheerleader if you but read the first page. That was how it happened for me. The first few words did me in and now there is no looking back. I hear there are couple of more books where I get to hang out with that odd-ball suicidal-depressive-maniac chick with an odd penchant to read your death time-table. Want to jump on?