Hello, Don’tRead faithful!
You’ve probably noticed I had an absentee holiday recently, but I’m back to do some work and try to make up for the many obligations which I have left unfulfilled. So since I was baking a hundred cookies all Friday long, I’ll do an awesome free book review today.
Blackbirds is about a young woman, Miriam Black, with the supernatural power to foresee people’s deaths upon physical contact. According to the book summary, she is trying to prevent a murder she’s foreseen. It’s the first of a series.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way, I started following Chuck Wendig’s blog and I really like his in-your-face voice and writing style. So when I read his post that Blackbirds would be free until the year’s end, I made a mental note to skip on over and check it out! Did I mention it’s Free?
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT:
Chuck knows how to hook a reader. That much is certain. Chuck starts off by using vivid imagery to draw you in, then he drops the ‘see your death’ hook. You’ll swallow it.
I really like his imagery because, as I learned from songwriter Pat Pattison, imagery is more powerful the more recognizeable it is to your audience. Remind them of things they’ve already seen and you’ll TAKE them there. Everyone’s been in a shitty motel room where you feel like you can’t touch anything because the parts that aren’t smeared with feces are crusted with semen. That’s where Blackbirds starts. And Chuck makes it real, alright.
He’s also really good at building tension and at pacing—he promises us something’s gonna happen, strings us along until the timing’s just right, then bam: an action scene and the tension’s released.
It’s actually just made me realize that good fiction is like sex.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
Despite it being a really good hook, the beginning feels a little tacked on—like it wasn’t always the beginning—and doesn’t FEEL like it’s part of the plot just yet. Not the worst thing in the world, and it wasn’t a fourth wall breaker at the time of reading, but when I took a break from reading I did have to reexamine Miriam’s purpose for being there.
And I guess I should mention Chuck’s voice here, too because it occurs to me it’s one of those you-love-it or you-hate-it things. The best adjective I could come up with to describe it is “rude”—there’s one instance in which a man’s hand is likened to genetalia, another in which “piss-colored” light fills a room, and no shortage of fuckwords—but it definitely conveys the imagery. Definitely not things most people would bring up at dinner with grandma.
But while I find it refreshing, I’ve heard from people who tried to read similarly ‘in-one’s-face’ narration and were put off.
Oh, and one more thing. I learned during my last first aid certification that it is not necessary OR HELPFUL to place things in the mouth of a person who is having a seizure. Their tongue will be fine—they won’t swallow or choke on it—so all you need to do is move chairs and stuff away from them so they don’t whack their arms and legs against it. If you read it, you’ll see what I mean.
RESULT: I’M READING IT
This is actually the first book of Chuck’s I’m reading, and that after following his blog for months. Just more proof that an author’s platform is the best form of marketing.
His skill at writing shows from page one and more than makes up for my one tiny nitpick. As for the “rude” narration style, it’ll just depend on personal taste whether you like it or not.
And leave some comments about it, dammit!