Read Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig Online

blackbirds

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.No matter what she does she can’t save Louis.Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try....

Title : Blackbirds
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780857662309
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 381 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Blackbirds Reviews

  • Tatiana
    2019-05-19 04:45

    As seen on The Readventurer2.5 starsThere have been a few conversations on Goodreads lately concerning the dangers of labeling and categorizing books, especially books written by women and especially calling them chick-lit or dystopian romance. Many eloquently and convincingly argued that giving fiction written by women these labels is dangerous and detrimental because it dismisses these books and alienates its potential male readers. On a logical level, I do understand these people's concerns, but personally, I don't feel like women are being underrepresented in publishing. Most of the books I read are written by women, most of my favorite authors are women, so it is hard for me to relate and lament the fact that if some book is called a romance, then we, people who label it so, take away the author's livelihood and stop men from reading it. I suppose, men are generally disinterested in books dedicated to "women's issues," but must it always have something to do with sexism and ten kinds of malice? Where am I going with this? Well, I just want to make a point that some books genuinely do not work for us, because they are written by an author of the opposite sex, no sexism needs to come into play. This is the case with Blackbirds, a book, which, I believe, I would have liked more if it didn't have so much dude in it.Blackbirds has all the elements of an excellent urban fantasy novel. And it would have been one, if it were written by Stacia Kane, for example. The book's main character, Miriam, has an ability to know how a person will die by having a skin-to-skin contact with him or her (this reminds me of some other books with similar powers, maybe Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris?). She uses this ability to take advantage of the dying people, normally by following them close to their death moment and cleaning out their wallets. Miriam seems to be unable to change the course of people's lives and postpone anyone's death, so she carries on knowing everyone's last moments, but not doing anything about it. That is until she meets a long-distance truck driver Louis who is nice to her and who she knows will die in a gruesome way a couple of weeks after meeting Miriam and with Miriam's name on his lips.The plot unfolds roughly as you would expect any urban fantasy (series) to unfold. There is a romantic entanglement (or two), some drugs, some sex (not sexy), a mystery, and lots and lots of violence and gore. I would have totally been down for this plot, if not for a few things.Wendig writes from Miriam's POV (3rd person). And I have the same problems with his woman's voice that I have with all the YA novels written by female writers from POV's of young lads who sound like middle-aged women. It's just not believable. Miriam's narrative is peppered with the amount of dick and dick-related tangents and jokes that are characteristic of only male-written books. (Sorry, guys, we are just not that preoccupied with your members.) And, in general, I found Miriam's voice too labored for my taste. Too much strained wit, even in the most inopportune and life-threatening moments, is not something I enjoy.The other thing that turned me off about this novel is the bare, cinematic quality of it. Sometimes you come across books that just have no "meat." Wendig has the plot down, the dialog is OK, but his characters appear to be operating in a vacuum. There is no sense of place, no atmosphere, little to no emotion, but mostly events and conversations happening one after another.And the last thing that I never in a million years thought I would complain about. There is way too much gore and nastiness in this book. It is often gratuitous and too gross, which is especially jarring when not balanced with depth and emotion and solid motivations. You have blood galore, cut-off body parts, eye boogers, bodies ground in a garbage disposal. Not to mention the term "blumpy" I learned which I now desire to erase from my mind forever (google it at your own risk). A lot of this was an overkill and not fully justified by the novel's plot.My advice about Blackbirds? Skip it, unless you are a dude or have a taste for gross, and read Zoo City instead.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-05-23 08:03

    Miriam Black has an interesting talent. Whenever she touches a person's bare skin, she can tell when and how they die. On the run most of her life, she gets by hitchhiking and stealing. When a good Samaritan picks her up, she finds that he dies a few weeks later, saying her name as a knife goes through his eye and into his brain. Can Miriam beat fate and save the man's life? And how does Ashley, the grifter with the mysterious briefcase and the two FBI agents that are after him fit into everything?So, yeah, I love Miriam Black. She's a foul-mouthed girl with a closet full of skeletons but I love her just the same. Imagine, being burdened with a "gift" like hers. Blackbirds brings her to life on the page and I could kick myself for not reading it as soon as it was published.Blackbirds is the tale of one woman trying to beat fate, no matter what obstacle falls into her path. Miriam is far from the typical heroine. She's got a mouth like a sailor with Tourette's syndrome and is about as trustworthy as Mike Tyson at a beauty pageant at first glance. Her chance meetings with Louis and later Ashley set her already rocky life going up diarrhea drive on four bald tires. Ingersoll, the baddie of the story, is obsessed with beating death and wants Miriam to help him. His flunkies, Harriet and Frankie, are ready to do whatever it takes to bring Miriam in. Although that's not how things get started.I loved the way Wendig alternating between an interview with Miriam about herself and the tale as it unfolded. It was a good way to explain things without infodumps. It also sowed seeds for future stories down the line featuring Miriam's mother and other relatives. Ordinarily, I'm not a huge fan of stories told in the present tense but I was so gripped by Blackbirds that I didn't notice the present tense until it was far too late to object. By that time, I was too invested in Miriam and the web of trouble she was entangled in to care.That's about all I have to say. Blackbirds is the way urban fantasy is meant to be. Four out of five stars.

  • Lyn
    2019-06-04 23:47

    Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig is founded on a great concept: by touching a person, skin to skin, Miriam Black can see a vision of the moment when that person will die. Pretty damn freaky, but an awesome idea for an edgy, gritty story.Beginning here and moving on to a tight, lean and very dark narrative, Wendig tells a solid paranormal fantasy. Maybe the greatest strength of this book is the author’s spot on characterizations. Miriam is a psychological train wreck dealing with this “gift”, but Wendig also does a better than average job with the handful of other characters. Dialogue is an element of many urban fantasies that too frequently comes up lacking, corny, or just outright bad; Wendig's lines flow like an actual conversation and this helps rather than hinders the already good narrative.Blackbirds also explores ideas about fate, existentialism and the occult. Dark fiction fans will want to read this.

  • Sh3lly ☽ Guardian of Beautiful Squids and Lonely Moons ☽
    2019-05-30 05:48

    4-carpet-noodle-starsDis wuz good - if you like twisted, crass, dark books. Luckily, it's right up my alley. Miriam has a sort of "psychic" ability: when she touches someone skin to skin, she sees how and when they die. She's a drifter/grifter, lives on the road, smokes a lot, drinks a lot, cusses a lot, and is generally not a very good person (not that drinking, cussing, and/or smoking has anything to do with what type of person you are *goes to get a beer and curses along the way* but it is definitive of Miriam and part of her caustic personality).But yet there is something likeable about her. I kind of dig her inner voice. It's very vulgar and doesn't really sound like a chick, but hey, it's different. She's an anti-hero.This is the type of book full of shenanigans, where crazy things happen and the craziness just escalates more and more. It's hard to label this. It has lots of violence and is generally offensive in the slurs and descriptions of everything and everyone. But it worked for me.Even though Miriam is not very likeable, I still found myself rooting for her. I liked Louis and hated everyone I was supposed to hate. The villains were appropriately villainy. It's basically about Miriam seeing the death of someone she ends up caring for and deciding to try and thwart fate, only she has to get through a trio of deadly meth dealers to do it. And runs into a scam artist her own age who also gets in her way.I like the way the author writes. His turns of phrase appealed to me. I'll be checking the next one out. Buddy read with the MacHalo group.

  • ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
    2019-06-03 07:43

    ☢ The Only Thing I Liked about this Book is its Cover Buddy Read (TOTILatBisCBR™), over at the MacHalo Asylum Mansion ☢➼ Disclaimer #1: Petronilla, my reviewing mojo (view spoiler)[yes, my reviewing mojo has a name. So what? Stranger things have happened. Then again maybe not (hide spoiler)] is currently holidaying with the murderous crustaceans' cousins in the Andaman Sea. Being quite totally unable to write semi-passable crappy non reviews without her most wondrous help, I had to resort to hiring RonaldTroopers Inc again. Desperate move if there ever was one, I know, but there you have it and stuff. One Pathetically Pathetic Uninspired Crappy Non review Check List Thingy(PPUCNRCLT™) coming right up!Please meet Petronilla, my Little Barnacles. Yes, an air-headed, blonde mojo with a silly smirk on her face does indeed reside in my little head. Explains a lot, doesn't it?(view spoiler)[ ☠ Unfriendly reminder: The pathetic contents of this Crappy Non review Check List Thingy are the sole property of RonaldTroopers Inc. No part of this Crappy Non review Check List Thingy may be reprinted, reproduced or published without the express written consent of the guys with the funny red hair. All those hopeless enough to plagiarize said contents will suffer a slow, painful, horrible, possibly excruciating death ☠(hide spoiler)]» Ze BlackBirds Crappy Non review Check List Thingy «✘ Third person present tense narration, aka please someone kill me now.✘ The continuous accumulation of supposedly (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] batshit crazy/fucked up/whatever stuff does not a plot make. Especially when it's, you know, continuously accumulated. For no other reason than to be, you know, continuously accumulated. It serves no purpose. It's overkill. It feels forced. It ends up becoming borderline ridiculously laughable and laughably ridiculous. Which gets old bloody shrimping fast. As for the supposedly (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] batshit crazy/fucked up/whatever itself? Let me tell you, my Lovely Arthropods, this ain't naught compared to what I went through in my nefarious subaquatic youth.✘ Barely there, simplistic plot is barely there and simplistic. It's quite delightful, really. And oh so gripping, too.✘ This book is Emotional Flatland Paradise (EFP™). It is wonderfully populated with delightful cardboard box-like, one-dimensional, allegedly fucked-up characters (yawn) who happen to have as much personality as barnacles (no offense, my Tiny Decapods). They really are quite remarkably engaging. Which makes for a fascinating, thrilling read. Oh yes, most definitely. This ain't one of those boring, lackluster, dull stories at all, my Comely Branchiopoda. Oh no, absolutely not.✘ This is one of those books that feel like the author wrote them for the sole purpose of having them turned into a TV/Netflix/Hulu/Whatever series. And given that I am one of those ancient, archaic freaks who never watch TV/Netflix/Hulu/Whatever and would rather observe copulating shrimps than watch TV/Netflix/Hulu/Whatever series slightly dislike series, this somewhat annoyed me. Not much, mind you. It just kind of made me feel like a homicidal maniac of sorts, that is all.✘ That ending. You have got to be shrimping kidding me. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong (view spoiler)[I never am, but it's always good to play it humble and stuff (hide spoiler)], but this is supposed to be a supposedly (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] batshit crazy/fucked up/whatever story, right? Just checking. Because that silly, HEA-smelling ending could have fooled me. Okay, so this is not exactly a Care Bears Land HEA (CBLHEA™), but bloody fishing hell, did it come close. It made me want to either eyeroll myself to death or put a bullet through my lovely little head. But then I thought that if I did, you Little Barnacles would miss me too much, and therefore decided to survive a little longer. Now, since I am all fairness and kindness and compassion and all that crap, I have to admit this book is not ALL bad. No it isn't. I did give it a 2-star rating after all, and not one of those Spontaneous Combustion Inducing 1-Star Ratings (SCI1SR™). Which means, that yes, I do have something positive to say about this captivating tale. I bullshit you not. Because the truth is, this book is bad, but at least it reads fast ♫ Always look on the bright side of life and stuff ♫» Ze End of Ze BlackBirds Crappy Non review Check List Thingy «➽ And the moral of this Ɗắɳ Rated this One 4 Stars so it Was my Nefarious Duty to Slightly Dislike It Crappy Non review Check List Thingy (DRtO4siWmNDtSDiCNRCLT™) is: most of my Barnacled Friends Minions had the despicably bad taste to enjoy this book but it's okay, I love like tolerate them anyway. Sometimes. A little. Not much though. Because it would be hazardous to my black, withered heart's declining health and stuff. Ha.[Pre-review nonsense]Oh wow, what a deeply emotional read. I don't think I'll ever recover from this one. So much excitement, passion and intensity. It really is more than my tiny black withered heart can take.►► Full Bloody Hell with Books Like this One Who Needs Blood Pressure Pills Crappy Non Review (BHwBLtOWNBPPCNR™) to come.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Carol.
    2019-06-10 04:59

    This is a tough one to review. Not because my reaction to the read wasn’t particularly clear –it was– but because my good friends over at Shelf Inflicted and I differ significantly in our opinions.No doubt, most of the issue is simply motivations and taste; why we read and what our preferable types are. I tend to love both complexity and subtlety, and my diversionary reads need to come with straight-up happy endings. As the child of police officers, I find violence all too common in real life. As a person in the medical field, I get more than my share of orifices, body fluids and death. As a female, I find domestic violence, emotional manipulation and rape horrifically common. So I prefer escapism when I read, not wallowing in evil and desperation.Let me begin:Blackbirds is Pulp Fiction without the dancing, No Country for Old Men without fine acting, and Transporter Three without Jason Stratham or a European setting. Written more like an action movie script, it is one of the least subtle books I’ve read in awhile. About the only redeeming aspect for me was the concept of being able to foresee someone’s moment of death.Miriam is a young woman who sees people’s death moments. She uses her knowledge to steal basic necessities and fuel her life on the road. We meet her in a dirty hotel room as she rolls a dying epileptic for his wallet (yeah, Chuck, you can’t really swallow your tongue, but way to go for the dramatic image). But don’t worry–he’s a pig who picks up whores and beats on them, so it’s all okay. Back on the road, he’s harassed by two frat boys, then runs into a trucker who offers to help. Once she sees herself connected to the trucker’s death, she decides to run from Destiny. Or will she try to change it? Writing style is simplistic, direct and non-complicated. Wendig relies on sentence fragments, emphasizing the script-like feel. Mood is grim, all dark imagery, full of grime, with a preoccupation of body orifices and fluids common in teens and college movies.“She clicks the lamp by the bed. Piss-yellow light illumines the ratty room.A roach sits paralyzed in the middle of the floor.‘Shoo,’ she says. ‘Fuck off. You’re free to go.’The roach does as it’s told. It boogies under the pull-down bed, relieved.““Inside, the bar is like the unholy child of a lumberjack and a biker wriggling free from some wretched womb. Dark wood. Animal heads. Chrome rims. Concrete floor.”There is little subtlety here, and the storyline is movie blockbuster with loads of excessive violence, simplistic plotting and character stereotypes. Just how stereotypical? Well, although the main character is a woman, it clearly fails the Bechdel test. The characters: Sex ruined someone’s life. There’s a sociopath who plays with bones. Frat boys who want to beat on women. Machismo bar flies. A woman who is made into a sociopath through devotion to a man. A woman refusing sex who then has an amazing orgasm (second most common rape myth ever). An “overly religious mother” who mentally abuses her child. A thug with a change of heart. A widower who regrets a spouse’s death. Yawners: Wendig doesn’t have to do much with characterization because he lets the reader fill in the blanks themselves. Narrative structure was interesting; there’s a current timeline interspersed with timeline from an interviewer. Using an interviewer is a clever way to get background into a character that doesn’t particularly like to spend a lot of time either in introspection or getting to know other people. On the other side, the narrative also includes a couple of “stories” from other characters and other scenes away from Miriam. That choice had mixed results for me; the choice of whose story was shared was odd, and really didn’t add dimension or tension to the overall plot, although it did allow a chance to ratchet up the violence level.Wendig had a kernel of a good idea, demonstrated in his moving images of people’s instance of death. But he lost those small moments of compassion and transcendence in the movie-violence extremism of the plotting, the shallowness of the characterization, the vague setting and the bleakness of the book. It’s a definite pass in my book. For excellent reviews, check out Tatiana”s discussion of Miriam’s voice and Esin’s overall analysis of the general -isms of the book.***********************Well, crud. My review is so off-topic, it's likely to get deleted. Links to the discussions are at my website. Find it permanently at:http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2014/0...ANDhttp://carols.booklikes.com/post/7767...-

  • Kemper
    2019-05-16 23:52

    You may not want to shake hands with Miriam Black.By simply touching anyone Miriam gets a vision of the exact date, time and circumstances of anyone’s death. The bitch of the situation is that she can’t do anything to change it. In fact, by trying to stop it she may actually cause it to occur. Since she feels like a helpless puppet to fate Miriam has taken up a nomadic existence of roaming America’s highways that she funds by being around to loot the wallets and purses of anyone who goes toes up. After she meets a friendly trucker named Louis and gets a vision of his brutal homicide caused by him meeting her a horrified Miriam tries to get away from him. However, events involving con man, a couple of killers, and one creepy drug dealer draw her back to Louis and seem to confirm that fate won’t be thwarted.This is an odd one in that the main character is simultaneously the best and worst part of the book. The idea of a young woman trying to outrun the gift/curse of being able to know how anyone will die but being helpless to stop it was a helluva of an intriguing concept. It’s certainly understandable that Miriam would turn into a drifter with a bad attitude and a love of booze and cigarettes.Unfortunately, she drifts a bit too far towards being a glib smart-ass who is delighting in her self-destruction rather than a tragic figure. It’s a difficult line to walk because it’d be tiresome if she was a hand-wringing guilt-ridden mess for the entire book, and there’s a certain charm to her frank appraisal of her situation and her own nature. But at that same time it seemed like she also took a giddy joy in her circumstances that gives her a license to not give a damn. That could be interesting angle for the character too, but it always played as just a bit off to me.I still enjoyed the book overall. It’s a fast paced supernatural road story with some colorful villains and a nice hook of Miriam’s spooky ability. For being a violent story about death, it’s got some good laughs to it, too. I just wish that Miriam wasn’t quite so delighted in her misery of being fate’s butt monkey.

  • Ɗắɳ2.☊
    2019-06-04 08:01

    ★★★★☆Miriam Black has been given a gift, or is it a curse. With merely the slightest touch, she’s able to see the exact moment and method of your death, but oddly not the where. Such a gift has the potential to be quite useful, right? With a bit of detective work, perhaps she’ll even be able to prevent your untimely demise. Unfortunately, she’s learned the hard way that fate is far from a fickle bitch, and what fate wants fate gets.She’s haunted, in particular, by one devastating incident involving a young boy. By inserting herself into his final minutes, in a desperate attempt to thwart his tragic death, she inadvertently facilitated it. Turned out fate had a plan all along and she was merely playing her part. So now, rather than constantly swimming against the tide, she’s chosen to go with the flow; let fate dine on your flesh. Perhaps she’ll pass by to pick through your bones after the fact, because a girl’s gotta eat. But you’ll not be needing that cash or those trinkets when you’re pushing up daisies.Confused by the apparent lack of purpose for such a gift, Miriam’s taken to a life on the road, opting to exploit her curse for a little pocket change and a few free meals. Then one day fate twists the knife a bit deeper, when she’s picked up by a white knight and sees a vision of how she’ll ultimately be responsible for his brutal murder. Horrified, Miriam does her best to get as far away from him as possible, but skirting fate is, “Like trying to derail a train with a penny or kicking a wave back into the ocean.” Is she forever destined to be fate’s bitch, or will she finally figure out a way to turn the tide?Miriam Black is quite a remarkable anti-heroine. I love her quick wit and sharp tongue, and ever creative use of profanity. I love how she always speaks her mind, and has absolutely no filter between her brain and mouth. Needless to say, she's one awesome chick. Blackbirds sets her up with a great premise and throws her into a fun road trip type of adventure, but I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the lack of a well-rounded cast. Most of the characters were of the shallow, one-note variety with a cartoonish quality about them.The third-person present tense lends the tale a “cinematic” feel, which Chuck claims, “creates a greater sense of tension and urgency. It's saying, things are not yet written. And with a story asking big questions about fate versus free will, that seemed apropos.” Some may be annoyed by that style, or his overuse of sentence fragments, but I personally had no problems with either. There’s a plethora of cursing, dark imagery, and graphic violence throughout, so if you take umbrage with any of that, you should probably steer clear. But if you’re a fellow Merchant of Death like myself, you may be wondering, with so many memorable dirt naps to choose from, which was my favorite? Two words…“Carpet Noodle.”This was another buddy read with a few of my favorite foul-mouthed girls: The Boarish Lady, The Evil Queen, Miss Thaaang, and, better late than never, goodreads very own Annie Wilkes. Ed tapped out from fear of literary lingchi, or death by a thousand fragments, and the inevitable fanboy blowback, after he’d eviscerated Chuck’s choppy writing style.4 stars. Love ya, Miriam.♫ Come on, Baby (Don't fear the reaper)Baby, take my hand(Don't fear the reaper)We'll be able to fly(Don't fear the reaper)Baby, I'm your man ♫Oh, and if I wasn’t quite clear, Miriam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=10&am...(Dear George Lucas, please stick to ruining my childhood love of Star Wars, and leave poor Billy Ocean alone. Seriously, wtf is with that video?)

  • Catie
    2019-06-09 04:01

    I read a few reviews of this book before starting and I noticed that certain words kept popping up: gory, violent, action-packed, vulgar. Now that I’ve finished, I can report that those descriptors are completely accurate. This book is a non-stop ride of filth, blood, and death. Going in, I expected that I might feel a little disgusted. I expected to feel uncomfortable. I expected that this would be a fast-paced, fun ride. I’ve mentioned before that a large part of my inner psyche is a twelve year old boy, and I fully expected him to enjoy the hell out of this book. What I never expected was that I would feel bored out of my mind.Miriam Black can see how people die – one touch, skin to skin, and she gets an instant, highly detailed (and sometimes minutes long) vision of their future demise. This ability is difficult enough to deal with in itself, but it’s even more of a curse for her because there’s absolutely nothing she can do to change the fate of those she’s touched. Fate will have its way, and she’s just a helpless witness. Miriam isn’t one to dwell on her lot (or on anything really) – she’s more the run away and keep running type. She lives a transient life: running from place to place, taking advantage of the soon-to-be-dead whenever she needs money or a place to stay. When a nice truck-driver named Louis picks her up one day, she glimpses his death and her own indisputable involvement in it.And that’s when the plot of this book becomes incredibly difficult for me to describe. It feels like a long chain of loosely tied together fight scenes and long-winded descriptions of really disgusting stuff. But where’s the story? There’s a point A and a point B which are really quite close together. And then there’s the long, meandering, bloody, slimy, pointless route that this book takes to get there. The gore and violence and grossness got so repetitive that by the end I was completely inured to it. Non-stop, over the top gore with the absence of any kind of meaning or depth or story loses all of its shock value. I knew it was bad when I got to this sentence: “…traffic locked up tighter than a handful of tampons crammed up a nun’s asshole” and just skimmed over it with nary a blink. Miriam herself is a pretty three-dimensional character and I love how damaged and immature she really is, but everyone else (except possibly Ashley, and he’s tossed out of the story like so much garbage) feels paper-thin. Louis, who the main character appears to have strong feelings for by the end of the book, has almost no characteristics to speak of. I enjoyed the villains, but they’re more like caricatures than characters. This book in general feels very shallow. It feels more like a movie than a book. I think it has an audience – lovers of mindless action and vulgarity will surely enjoy it – it just wasn’t for me.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2019-06-11 08:00

    Original review posted on The Book SmugglersIn Which I Am A Party-Pooper. Again.Reviews have been mostly positive about Blackbirds and I can sort of see why. This is a fairly competent Urban Fantasy novel about a woman called Miriam Black who can – upon touching flesh – see how a person is going to die. Understandably, she is a majorly fucked up character who has basically given up on living a normal life. So she just roams aimlessly from motel room to motel room, sometimes making use of the information with regards to their time of death to be there and steal their money. Then this one day she comes across this Nice Guy named Louis whom she sees, will die soon, saying her name. In an attempt to defy Destiny, she does her best to stay away from him – but as I said, he is a Nice Guy so she can’t stay away and ends up falling in love – because he is a Nice Guy. There is also this other relationship between her and a con-man who blackmails her into using her skillz to help his cons.Long story short: Blackbirds seems to subscribe to the idea that the Real World is grim and gritty and messed up. The vast majority of characters that Miriam meets are those types of low-life losers, criminals, rapists, etc etc. Miriam herself is a foul-mouthed abrasive heroine and instead of finding it edgy as I am sure it was the intention, I just found it all SO boringly mundane. In all fairness, I am not usually a fan of Grim and Gritty so there is that to be taken into consideration. But beyond that, I have seen this particular story done before, there is nothing new or original about an abrasive, damaged UF heroine who is struggling with the conceits of free will x fate. Been there, read that.Most of my lukewarm reaction to Blackbirds can definitely be chalked up to personal preference. However, there is something that goes beyond that: the issue of female representation in this story. It grieves me that I having to write about this again. It grieves me that this is the fourth review IN A ROW in which I find myself writing about this topic. But alas.Blackbirds is for lack of a better expression: una fiesta de dicks.Although the main character is a woman, the sheer abundance of men in this story is mind-blowing. More than that, it is amazing how the life of this heroine and of the one other female character (villain, psychopath) are always in relation to the men. It is because of a dude that Miriam sets out in this arc; it is because of a dude that she finds herself in trouble; it is possibly because of a guy that she is scarred and has become what she is (to be seen, probably will be developed in the second book). She has no relationships with women and the vast majority of people she meets in her nomad life are men; she keeps describing the visions of death she has and 99% of them are men’s. I ask: where are the women in this world? Similarly with the female villain: her breakthrough as a psychopath started because of a man (her husband) and developed because of another man (her boss).Loads of man-pain as well. Louis is a Nice Guy because of…reasons (he is not a rapist or a criminal, I guess) and he is damaged by the death of his wife. Not because he loves her or misses her. Not because it was a tragic even that ended HER short life. No, of course not. HIS pain comes from HIM feeling guilty for her death. It is all about HIS guilt rather than HER death. Yes, it sucks, I get it and I understand how messed up he can be because of it but in conjunction with all the dude love in this novel, it is just Too.Much.Dick.Do not want.

  • Sarah
    2019-06-06 04:01

    I got about half-way through Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and had to stop. Not because the writing was bad - it was excellent. Not because the story was boring - I was riveted. Not even because I didn't like the characters - they were wonderfully heart-breaking.I had to stop because it felt like my mind and heart were being dragged through a cesspool. And I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. Reality is that there's a whole lot of crap in life, and it deserves as much literary attention and honesty as the more pleasant parts. In fact, the two parts are often intertwined in some way.My problem is that I become completely absorbed in the world of a well-written book. Some people, like my hubby, are able to separate from it and deal with it on an intellectual, more abstract level, and that's great. For me, though, stories have the ability to shape the way I view myself and the world I live in on a fundamental level. And while I acknowledge the existance of the world's crap, dwelling on it is counterproductive to my ultimate goal of trying to become the best version of myself that I can be.So I'm sorry, Mr. Wendig. I had to break things off.It's not you. It's me.

  • Jillian -always aspiring-
    2019-05-26 06:59

    A few weeks ago, I came across an essay written by Neil Gaiman and titled "All Books Have Genders": the beginning of the essay touches upon the truth that, whether we (readers or writers) like it or not, most books can be defined as either girl books or boy books. What determines what a book's "gender" is? I'd say it's a mixture of things, particularly the main character, the mood of the story, the focus of the plot, and the narrative's voice. What does any of this have to do with the novel I'm reviewing? Well, despite having a female lead, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig is undoubtedly a "boy book."As far as being a "boy book," there's nothing wrong with that, but I suppose my expectations muddled my reading experience a bit. You see, Blackbirds's synopsis gives the promise of urban fantasy: Miriam Black, through touch alone, can know how the person she's touching is going to die. For Miriam, it's an instant thing, experiencing someone's death in the span of a few moments even if the dying itself may last minutes or hours from the person's eventual perspective. Given this dark gift, it's not unexpected that Miriam's become affected by its power...but sometimes she seems less a "realistically-written woman damaged by her strange ability" and more "damaged woman written with the voice of a guy." There's a difference, believe me, especially when you're reading it.Now, Miriam's gift leads to her gaining the attention of quite a few unsavory characters: a con artist, two dangerous people claiming to be FBI agents, and a creepy hairless man who stabs someone through the eye in one of Miriam's death visions. The problem? Miriam seems to be the cause of that last death, and over the course of the novel she attempts to maneuver a way to prevent this death even though she had long ago accepted that fate is a merciless storm that won't be diverted no matter what she does.For the first 100 pages or so, I rather liked the novel (the thought-provoking aspects of fate particularly intrigued me), but at some point the story became quite gratuitous with its moments of gore, akin to movies like the Saw series. If such movies are your thing, then you'll probably enjoy Blackbirds. As for me, I don't mind gore -- unless it's used for shock factor or a way to include narrative punch. Sadly, Blackbirds seemed to thrive on using gore in just those two ways, and thus reading the book became quite an unpleasant experience for me at times.Given my mixed feelings on this first novel, I can't say I would follow Miriam through an entire series, but perhaps I'll see where her journey goes in the sequel, Mockingbird. As for whether you should read it or not, I'd recommend reading a few reviews and sampling the novel's first few pages before you commit to reading it in its entirety. It's definitely not one of those urban fantasy novels that will jive with everyone, but I'm certain it will find its audience who will enjoy it for what it is with few complaints.(Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.)

  • Jason
    2019-05-24 02:41

    5 StarsI received this incredibly fun read from Net Galley and F#ck ‘n A, Miriam is one cool ass, strong, brave and extremely foul mouthed piece of trash that captured my heart and my interest as she let her first explicits fly.  This is a very cool book… it was my first Wendig novel, but surely will not be my last. I loved that Wendig holds no punches back. He writes with a gritty and raw flare, without pussy footing around being politically correct. Yes, he can be vulgar, the language is rough, and there is a lot of sex, drugs, and alcohol.  For the record, I am very much the way Miriam describes most men, I am a “pig” that finds that the raunchier, the gorier, the dirtier, and the more explicit things are, the more I will probably like it. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the same and as a result, they may miss out by passing up on reading about this highly original, charismatic, white trash woman. They may feel that there is simply is too much dirt and grime on these pages preventing them from being able to see through to the shiny parts on the inside. Enough about this: on to the story.---rip“The first rule,” Miriam says, “is that I only see what I see when skin touches skin. If I touch your elbow and you’re wearing a shirt, then nothing. If I wear gloves – and I used to, because I didn’t want to bear witness to all this craziness – then it prevents the vision from happening.”--ripOur amazing heroine Miriam has a unique ability, a curse in her eyes, in that whenever she first makes skin contact with a person, she can see when they will die, and how they will die. Wendig uses a fantastic structure to this novel, utilizing many interludes in which we are given more backstory, more details, and told more about the characters. This structure worked, and I looked forward to the pauses in the storyline because they enriched the story and increased my enjoyment of it. Plus I loved the reading of her diary and the image of tearing out the pages on her life.Wendig fills this book with many colorful, funny, and interesting characters. Louis “Frankenstein” makes for a great guy for us to root for, and for Miriam to be involved with. Ashley is the annoying son of a bitch that thinks people like him, when in reality; they cannot help but loathe him. Frankie and Harriet: The tall man and short stocky woman made for the scary bad guys that also brought some fun to the table. They had some witty and funny dialogue exchanges that had me laughing out loud.  There are some great action scenes involving a guy, “Fat Dude”, and his buddy “Gray Pubes”. Of course the hairless man, Ingersoll made an awesome head bad guy.Wendig’s writing matched this messed up story perfectly. It is filled with creative colorful metaphors that will make you cringe and laugh all at the same time.--rip“Miriam speaks in a small voice. “Miss Nancy? Are you okay?”“What are you?” she hisses.“What? What do you mean?”“Something dead is inside you. A deep, black, shriveled thing, and it’s crying out like a lost child for its mother. You are the hand of death. You are its mechanism. I can hear the wheels turning, the pulleys pulling.” “--rip““Do not be scared of what I can see, because what I can see is part of nature. It is natural. I read natural things, like bones or leaves or fly wings, and they tell me what is coming. The world has its strange balance, and what I can see is no more magic than how you look down the road and see a mailbox or a man walking – I simply see how everything will balance out.””--ripThis was a great fun read that I did not want to put down for a second. It is a visceral rush that builds up steam and unfolds in an awesome fashion like a bang at the end. Damn, I am so glad that this will not be the only time that I will get to read about Miriam Black. A 2012 must read!!!!

  • Trudi
    2019-06-13 06:01

    Really 3.5 stars but since I enjoyed parts of it so much, I'm rounding up. What? A girl's allowed to feel generous every once in awhile. This book is not without its flaws, but goddamn, it has a gritty, modern noir sensibility that I just fell in love with. Miriam Black is a damaged -- you could even argue deranged -- anti-heroine who isn't a very nice person. She's pretty fucked up actually, and she's just as likely to rob you as she is to spit in your eye. She fills her days (and nights) with booze and sex with strange men. She's a champion of letting the expletives fly. Miriam has enough personal demons and closet skeletons to fill a soccer stadium. And they hunt her. They torment her. And no matter how much she runs, or how far, they are always just at her heels nipping away. While her jagged edges and self-destructive tendencies might not make her very warm and sympathetic, I still found her to be extremely dynamic and interesting. Her choices mattered to me and I became very invested in how her story was going to end. This is a crime novel in that there is a lot of criminal acts taking place and a lot of vivid descriptions of violence and physical trauma. Miriam's is an unusual problem -- at the touch of skin-on-skin she can foresee the time and circumstances of a person's death. Such intimate foreknowledge is a heavy burden to bear, especially since Death and Fate cannot be foiled. The only control Miriam has over these situations is to maybe be there right at the moment of your destined demise to relieve you of your money and credit cards (you don't need them anymore, right?) She's pretty much come to accept her powerlessness. It has made her cynical, entirely dysfunctional, and dangerous. Then she meets Louis -- a hapless, widowed truck driver who only has a month left to live. His death involves torture and would be considered gruesome even by mob standards -- and this is what Miriam knows: her name is the last word that falls from his lips. The mystery becomes how do we end up at this point, and despite knowing better, will Miriam be able to cheat Death this time? Will she even try?While Louis is merely a character sketch, the other woman in this story -- Harriet -- is one of the creepiest, most memorable characters I've read in a while. Like the best noir classics, this book too is all about the damaged women and the choices they make. It is they who drive the story, and the men are just along for the ride. This book concludes quite solidly but there is a sequel planned that I will definitely be checking out. Miriam is pretty intense and I really want to know where her story goes next.If you're curious about the writing at all, here are some of my favorite turns of phrase: The Barnegat Lighthouse has 217 steps. Each is an agony. Each a troubled birth, an expelled kidney stone, a black widow's bite. The steps are corrugated steel painted in flaking yellow. They wind in a tight spiral through a channel of black brick. It is like ascending the throat of some ancient creature."You want to make a change...so cosmic you're unwriting death and kicking fate square in the face, then you best be prepared to pay for it." -"With blood," Miriam says. -"With blood and bile and voided bowels."Miriam stops walking. Clouds drift in front of the sun. Somewhere out over the water, a storm brews, and rain clatters against the tides....Lightning licks at the ocean way out there under the steel sky.

  • Esin
    2019-05-21 04:56

    I am absolutely baffled by the amount of people praising this book.The second page of this book tells me that Wendig has written another novel, a novella, a collection of short stories and four books on writing. One of the latter is called 500 Ways to be a Better Writer. So I naively assumed the author would have some idea about how to write a readable book.This book had a lot of potential; I love the concept, I love the theme of fighting fate and it promised some dark humour. It was a complete let down and I only finished it by accidentally arriving somewhere an hour early and having absolutely nothing to do but to read this terrible book.So, let's crack on:The novel opens will an epileptic having a seizure and choking on their tongue. Chuck Wendig cannot use Google it seems, as a thirty second search containing only the words "tongue" and "choke" brought up some websites that proved that you cannot actually choke on your tongue. I am surprised his editor didn't point this out, as I thought it was common knowledge that choking on one's tongue is an urban legend. So, it wasn't off to a good start. The books is written in present tense, which I don't like. Wendig has not met a simile he didn't cram into the pages, often two at once. He repeats bits of description and words, and he has this awful habit of saying something and then saying it again. Reiterating. Rephrasing. Restating. Repeating. Echoing. Replaying. And that brings me to the sentence fragments - in small doses they are powerful and can really add impact to something. But there they litter the pages, like some sort of bomb went off in the prose and destroyed all the complete sentences. I grew tired of all the gritty language and purposefully grim prose. In small amounts it adds atmosphere and credibility and so much more. Here it's just ... there. Nothing's yellow, it's always "piss-yellow" nor is it a layer of grey clouds it's a "a bright greasy layer of gray", which doesn't even make all that much sense. It's like a bad film where the background's black from the night, everyone's wearing black and all the props are black - you have to squint to see what's going on. What I'm saying is, there's so much "gritty" darkness in the novel that there's no contrast; it's just one bit book-sized slab of unrelenting blackness. To say the plot is spread thin would be a bit of an understatement. The novel is padded out with pointless interludes and boring Symbolic Dreams that dragged on and on. I think it is done to disguise how actually straightforward and simple the plot is; let's just say the ending isn't hard to suss out.Miriam Black, our protagonist, is a terrible character. The plot just happens to her; she doesn't make choices or do anything proactive until the very end. She's angsty, angry and to call her one-dimensional is an insult to dimensions. It is also incredibly obvious from the first page that she is being written by a man. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but she reads like a man's fetishized view of what a strong but damaged woman should be. There's no understanding or even attempt at understanding the key differences between the experience of men and women. She's a wildly inconsistent character. At times I didn't know how she'd react because she honestly doesn't seem to have a set character. She does whatever the story requires her to do, characterization be damned. Her bag gets turned out at one point and she's carrying two romance novels, but nothing in her character suggests she would enjoy reading those (to be honest, she just seems to enjoy being miserable, given she never even half-heartedly attempts to strive for anything even slightly better). It felt like Wendig wrote them there because he thinks that's what women like. At another point the narrative says something along the line of "Miriam didn't know the phrase 'Eurotrash', but it's what she'd have called Ingersoll" and about a hundred pages later she called Ingersoll "Eurotrash" to his face. Well done there, Wendig. I have been informed that I am attributing this to the wrong character, and I unreservedly apologize to anyone I may have misled. I also would like to apologize to Mr. Wendig - the book is .0001% less bad that my original review states it is. Thank you for the correction, EmilyAs for the other characters, they were equally one dimensional. Even worse, they all had the exact same voice as Miriam, using the same words and phrases. The villains didn't really seem to have much of a reason for their evilness, killing people willy-nilly for nothing more than looking at them. They're flat and boring. Not to spoil, but one of them apparently wanted out or something, but they didn't really seem like it at all in the bits of the novel leading up to it. The novel was also chock-full of ableism, sexism and homophobia, most of which comes directly from the protagonist's mouth. It made me hate her from the start and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. Miriam does not meet a woman she doesn't immediately deride for whatever reason crosses her mind. I'm sure people will argue that she does it to the men too, but she doesn't in the same way. Louis is treated as a saint for no real reason. Even comparing how the novel treats Harriet and Frankie, you can see a massive difference. Ashley is also a rapist - Miriam tells him to stop/take his hands out of her pants and he doesn't. Disgustingly, the narrative supports him and Miriam says something about how she didn't really want him to stop. Regardless, she verbally withdrew consent and he continued. In summary, I honestly don't see how people liked this awful book. I didn't set out to hate this book; I wanted to love it, but it was just bad in so many varied ways. It's a real shame. Everything I've seen or heard about Mr. Wendig has shown him to a genuinely nice and interesting bloke, and it's very disappointing this doesn't extend to his work. The only real redeeming feature of this novel is that it introduced me to the work of Joey HiFi who is responsible for the wonderful cover.

  • Inge
    2019-05-24 06:03

    DNF 50% As much as it pains me to do this, I'm going to have to put a DNF stamp on this. I love Chuck Wendig and the premise sounded interesting, but I got 50% in and it's still not my thing.

  • Joe Valdez
    2019-05-29 07:52

    Blackbirds is a paranormal thriller filled with harsh language and writing about a drifter named Miriam Black who has the ability to see the death of anyone she touches. The novel gets two stars because I did finish it. I enjoy stories about psychics, about people with a gift they didn't ask for and can't return. Their gift gives them them godlike powers on the one hand but the very mortal weakness of loneliness due to their inability to connect with others, at least in the way that really matters.Miriam's path reminded me of a script by someone who watched Kung Fu or The Incredible Hulk as a kid, a kid who recounted the episode on the playground using four-lettered words he'd picked up on HBO. Something kind of cool has to come from those influences, right?Rule #11 in Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing and the late author's most important "rule": "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." Chuck Wendig ignores this rule from the coin toss. I can't imagine how obnoxious the sequels are. Blackbirds is chock full o' writing. There are stock characters doing a TV plot -- "Next on Blackbirds, Miriam is rescued by a truck driver whose lease on life is about to be revoked. Can she save him? Tune in tonight at 10pm/ 9 Central!" -- exchanging Tweetable dialogue with a lot of dark and gritty posturing. I didn't buy any of it. Overpriced on Kindle for $11.99 (as of 9-2015), I'd recommend renting a digital copy at your library. If you're in the mood for a psychic girl reigning fire, panic and chaos down on bad guys, purchase Firestarter by Stephen King instead. I can read about Charlie McGee squaring off against The Shop again and again and never get bored.

  • Becky
    2019-06-17 05:42

    I read Chuck Wendig's book The Blue Blazes last year, and I really enjoyed it. Based on the success of that experience, I vowed to read more of his books... though with the half-cringing knowledge that I might have my OHGODWHY?? button pressed a couple times. *Shudder*I really enjoyed Blue Blazes. I loved the setting, the characters, the monsters, the grime and the crime and the feel of it. So I went into Blackbirds fully expecting to love it as well. Maybe not in the same ways, because this story is very different from Blue Blazes, but still. I think it's clear that Chuck can tell a kick-ass story and isn't afraid to take things to eleven. It didn't quite work out that way though. The thing is... I never really felt fully connected to the characters in this book like I did with Blue Blazes. I liked Louis a lot, but he was the least realistic of the bunch, in a too-good-to-be-true, white-knight, sort of way. I could understand Miriam, at least as much as we were allowed to see of her, but I couldn't really empathize with her or like her. I understand why she didn't, but I still felt like Miriam should have taken a bit more ownership of her life, rather than letting it carry her along 'like garbage in a stream'. That really bugged me, and I was glad to see her moving a bit away from that in the end. But the way that she let Ashley commandeer her life... *deep breath* No. Just... No. My 'Guy-Who-Will-Fuck-Over-Your-Life' Proximity Alarm™ started blaring like a million decibel air raid siren the minute he walked onto the scene. I'm surprised that Miriam couldn't hear it through my Kindle, though she likes them fucked up and stupid, I guess, so maybe she heard it and just ignored the fact that her ears were bleeding. Dogs were barking 3 towns over, that's how loud this fucking thing was, though. Just saying. Ashley made me... hateragey. I can appreciate a good con man. I can appreciate a good opportunist. But holy fuck, I hated that douchebag so hard. Every single time that guy put in an appearance, I wanted to throat punch him and then knee him in the face as he gagged, and then kick him in the junk as he toppled backwards, and then bash him in the face with a brick. Specifically. I think they should have let Harriet have at him. And good riddance. Stupid motherfucking bitch-ass, dickfaced, girl name having smarmy fucking punk. Fuck off. *Deeeeeeep breath* Fucker. Ok. I'm good now. As I was saying, I didn't love the characters. There was just something... off-kilter about them for me. Either they were too good, or too bad, or too.... lifeless. I don't know what it is, but I just wanted a little more. Maybe the next book in the series will help out with that, though, because in a lot of ways, this felt like a prelude to something bigger. I wanted to know more about Miriam's history and her back story, and while we did get quite a bit of that, I feel like the real key elements are missing. Right before the interview interludes would have touched on it, they ended abruptly. (And speaking of which, those sessions, while interesting, annoyed the hell out of me, because the interviewer kept getting sidetracked by seriously stupid details about nothing. This woman is telling you the story about how she can SEE HOW PEOPLE DIE, and you're stunned by the fact that she mentioned pooping. Really? *headdesk*Anyway... All of this complaining should not be taken to mean that I didn't like this book. I did, as a whole, but just not quite as much as I enjoyed Blue Blazes. This book has a great premise and some interesting possibilities for the series, but I just didn't find it as engaging or entertaining to read. I am, however, still interested enough to read more of the series. I have a feeling that after this introduction, shit could get mighty real. And when Wendig's writing it... it's probably not going to be all fluffy bunnies and flower petals raining from the sky.

  • Brandon
    2019-05-25 00:43

    Miriam Black doesn't want your help. She’s a loner by choice. Why? Well, Miriam can tell you with 100% accuracy when and how you’re going to die. With a little simple skin on skin action, she can peer into the future and find out when you’re going to meet your maker. Big deal right? If Miriam knows how you’re going to die, why doesn't she just become a superhero and save the day? The thing is – fate ain't got time for superheroes. What fate wants, fate gets and avoiding the grim reaper isn't something she’s equipped to deal with.Unfortunately for Miriam, she can’t always choose her battles. Crossing paths with a kindly trucker forces her to let her guard down which allows a friendship to take root. However, when she sees how he’ll kick the bucket, she opts to get as far away as possible, hoping to somehow avoid the whole mess altogether. Remember what I said before? How fate always gets its way?This book was straight up awesome. Wendig has a way with words; like he’s cooking with literary hot sauce. And don’t give me any of that crap about how Wendig wrote Miriam like she’s a dude; as if there’s any set way a man/woman is supposed to act within fiction. Miriam is Miriam. She’s a loose cannon. She’s fun to read, she’s a breath of fresh air and the girl can trade verbal barbs with the best of them. Seriously, there are some of the best one-liners in here. If you’re not laughing out loud at what Wendig throws at you, your funny bone is broken.Not only is Miriam memorable, the supporting cast shines in their roles. The two thugs on her trail, Frankie and Harriet, provide excellent entertainment while Miriam is off screwing something up somewhere. Her boss, Ingersoll, is obsessed with tracking down Black, hoping she’ll help him expand his operation beyond its minimal existence. All three are solid foils for Miriam. Despite knowing there are two books that follow, they’re not written as simple obstacles for her to overcome. They have a serious mean streak and will linger long after you close the book.I loved the hell out of this and I can’t recommend it enough. On to book two!

  • Casey
    2019-06-02 00:06

    2* - It is what it is Stars*That awesome cover is saving your ass a starI really don't want to fill my review with the things I didn't like about this book. It's not a bad book. It just didn't work for me like it did soooooo many of my other friends and buddy readers. Like:Shelby, Kelly, or Sh3lly. They all liked this way better than me and their reviews make sense. As opposed to mine. Obviously.So right, the book...In all honesty, this is a great concept... Young woman can touch you and know how and when you are going to die. But not just know it, she essentially lives those last moments of each person she touches lives in a matter of a blink of an eye. She knows on what is practically a cellular level what happens to the person's body. You want an example? Sure. So let's say she bumps a guy on the the subway with her bare arm against his. She would have a vision of not only him dying in 2 years, three months, 16 days, 4 hours, and 32 minutes from that exact second, but she also know that the cause of his death is a heart attack. She will feel the tightness in his chest as the pain rips through his body because his heart is failing him and know that he recognizes this is the end. In the book you get excruciating detail of the death of every single person she touches, and some of those deaths are not pretty. If you can't handle that, turn back now because that is the LEAST of your concerns in this book.And I liked Miriam's character. She curses more than I do which I wasn't entirely sure was possible. Not only that but she is pretty hard core and does some sketchy shit to get by. Like really sketchy shit. Sketchy shit that we get to read about, we're not just told that it happened in some distant past and she is now reformed (fyi - that's such an annoying trope. if you want to write a chick that has no chill and gives no fucks then show her doing all the things that make me believe it, don't just tell me she had a shit upbringing that she once did horrible unconscionable things).Speaking of... I didn't mind the cursing and the gore in the story one bit. Some *cough* Sarah*cough* felt that maybe the author was trying a little too hard to cram in as much bat-shit crazy as possible. I totally get that, because it sure as hell seems off the rails, but I didn't feel as strongly that it was too much or forced. Don't get me wrong, there are a few scenes that had me going... uhhhh, that was not necessarily what I wanted to read on my lunch break... but in the end I think it helped set the mood for this gritty story.BUTThere were two things about this book that made it almost painful to read and then left me with a sour milk taste in my mouth at the end. One of these is super spoilery so I'll tag the shit outta that one, but the other not so much.Problem number one: The narrative style.I just can't. The alternating first to third person present tense with flashbacks and so much foreshadowing I could choke on it...It was just too much for me. Every time I had to take a break from reading it it would take me forever to get re-engaged into the story. It took me way too long to get through this.Problem number two: The ending:So here's where it gets spoilertastic. Do not read beyond this point if you plan on actually reading the story.(view spoiler)[I am so fucking for real right now because it will literally ruin the end of the book for you.(view spoiler)[Last chance to back away slowly(view spoiler)[Alright, you asked for it...So throughout the whole story we are told over and over and fucking over again that Miriam can't change what happens in her visions of death. And then... of fucking course of then...She starts to fall for the guy whose gruesome death vision provided a big chunk of the plot. Apparently we can't let her life be complete shit ALL the time so she manages to save loverboy and change his fate.Which, by the way, did not give me the warm fuzzies despite my being a big Louis fan. All it did was piss me off that Wendig created this rule for her visions, had her accept all this horrible shit as simply fate and out of her hands, and then, oopsie doopsie... just kidding, we're gonna need him later in the series so let's not kill him off just yet and come up with a totally legitimate reason why.Bah.Fuck that.I liked Louis but I would have given this book a third star if he had died. (hide spoiler)]Anyway, for what it's worth lots of people really enjoyed it. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Mara
    2019-05-31 04:47

    Three and a half stars, but I'm feeling withholding this morning. The Rules of Engagement:I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to the genres of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, horror, thrillers and the like and am (despite a lackluster attempt at googling it) decidedly unclear on the differences among the supernatural, preternatural, paranormal and ultranatural (if that's even a thing). The point of my rambling about this, is that what Ido like is worlds in which abilities that are beyond the "normal" are subject to certain rules (I guess I'm a bit like Annie Wilkes in that capacity). Chuck Wendig's world of Miriam Black, thus far, seems to have done just that.For our anti-heroine (another word I use without fully understanding) Miriam, the briefest of skin-on-skin contact allows/forces her to see how a person will die. She gets to know when (down to the minute) and how, but is not privy to the location (outside of clues she can glean from context).You know how many people you bump into on the subway during summer? Everybody in short-sleeves? It's all elbows, Paul. Death and elbows. If ever a girl had a good excuse to be a bit of a nihilistic misanthrope, it's Miriam because, unlike Bill Murray's ability to catch the kid falling from the tree or step over puddles in Groundhog Day, Miriam can't prevent these things from happening. My Musings:I readily admit that it's all the things "wrong" with Miriam that make me think she's so gosh darn swell. Her acerbic inner monologue and callous disregard for others are understandable (hey, deterministic philosophers weren't always buckets of sunshine either), and are downright funny to read.I want an orange soda. And I want vodka to mix into the orange soda. And, while we're at it, I'd also like to stop being able to see how people are going to bite it. Oh, and a pony. I definitely want a goddamn pony.I definitely enjoy Chuck Wendig's style which, though not especially elegant, is well-paced and laden with dry humor. There were occasional similes that felt a bit amateur hour (plays out...again and again like a YouTube video set to repeat), but he more than makes up for it 80% of the time.Also, there's a good bit of gore. Like, the kind of gore that if the picture below leaves you feeling squeamish and not wondering why you never see this kind of thing at the grocery store, you might not enjoy.All in all, Miriam is my kind of girl, and I foresee keeping up with her exploits and more Chuck Wendig in my future.

  • Lou
    2019-05-26 05:39

    A story featuring a main protagonist Femme fatale, I can see the future kind of gal.She knows how you will die, when you will die year, day, hour and minute, but she does not know where it will take place exactly. The location is a mystery for her to solve.She considers herself in this story as a hideous little no good-nik. She says she does horrible things and has horrible thoughts. Curses, drinks and smokes. I reckon she still has heart and guts.Change the course of fate can it be?This dwindling answer constantly doing a circuit round her brain.One character Louis she unearths love for, a trucker, whose fate of a bloody end has already been see by her touching him like many others. This guys end she simply can't let it be and is one she won't just let pass by as fated. That 'can I change the future?' question even more behind her mind, can I change this mans end a fateful bloody end?He's used an unique style of writing in this story that at first seems a bit disorientating but after a chapter of two hooks you in line and sinker and adds to the fast past paced series of occurrences. This is no grand work of literature but a crime story with supernatural strain delivered in a unique style of his own.There's plenty of dark humour, thrill and things you would want your kids to read about like foul language and sex. Bad assed characters, slick and original awesomeness! He has an awesome website that has everything to do with writing and his novels. He gives great advice on writing: @ http://terribleminds.com/Podcast: Interview with Chuck Wendig, Storyteller: @ http://jchutchins.net/site/2011/10/08/podcast-interview-with-chuck-wendig-storyteller/Also @ http://more2read.com/review/blackbirds-miriam-black-1-by-chuck-wendig/

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    2019-05-25 23:47

    4.5 stars. Oh man, what can I say about Miriam Black? Funny how Chuck Wendig was able to hook me on his Blackbirds female protagonist the way he couldn't with Mookie Pearl in The Blue Blazes, my first book by this author. I may have mentioned my aversion for rough, brutish, brawn-over-brains characters like Mookie in my review of that book, but here I find myself completely taken with Miriam and her snarky, foul-mouthed, firebrand hellion devil-may-care badass ways. This chick had me at, "That's me. My fair fuckin' lady."Miriam also has a very special ability -- she can foresee the manner in which a person will die and know exactly when, down to the very micro-second. All she needs is any skin-on-skin contact and the visions will trigger, the deaths playing out in her mind in their entirety but lasting only a couple seconds to anyone watching from the outside. She used to care, used to want to save others from their preventable demises, but quickly learned her lesson: What fate wants, fate gets. Now she's a vagrant, hopping from city to city trailing those she knows will soon meet their end, so she can swoop in and rob them at the time of their deaths and no one will be the wiser. Then one day she meets Louis, the random truck driver who gives her a lift and is the first person in a long time to show her even a hint of kindness. She finds she likes him, but then she shakes his hand and sees his death -- in 30 days, Louis will be brutally murdered. Miriam is shocked; she's seen hundreds of deaths from accidents, suicides, and health problems, but very rarely has she seen murder. And the kicker is, in her vision right before Louis dies, he looks up past his killer and calls Miriam's name...like he sees her there.It was difficult to put this book down. Obviously, the plot being such a tease was a major draw, but like I said before, I was also very much taken with Miriam. I still don't know why, really; it's not like I can relate to her all that easily since I am nothing like her, but I felt connected to her regardless. She's definitely unique, and it'll be a mistake going into this book expecting her to be just another independent, tough-as-nails paranormal fiction female protagonist. Miriam would probably just beat someone like her up, but only after cussing her out and drinking her under the table.A lot of the criticisms I've seen directed at this book claim Miriam's character doesn't read like a "real girl", but I have to disagree. Not only do I know women who act just like Miriam, I also think that her rough, trashy badass exterior reflects the kind of life she's had growing up with her disturbing power, making her behavior and personality convincing and refreshingly honest. At the same time, I sense that underneath is someone more perceptive and complex, with a introspective, kind and caring side to her that you just have to dig a little bit beneath the surface to find. Okay, maybe make that dig A LOT beneath the surface, but I still know it's there.This book also made me start appreciating Chuck Wendig's style a lot more than I had before. His writing, topics, and characters are infused with this attitude which to me is a little reminiscent of the transgressiveness in books one might find by authors like Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis. I also love the paranormal spin to Blackbirds, but I would also hesitate to categorize it as urban fantasy because it throws so many of that genre's conventions out the window; my guess is that a person can be really put off by this book if caught completely unprepared by it.Sometimes, it does feel like the book is deliberately out to shock you, what with some of its violent and graphic scenes as well as Miriam's potty mouth, but I was strangely cool with it. The subject matter also had a way of making me feel deliciously unsettled, but it at least made this book memorable. I admit I was somewhat initially hesitant about tackling another Chuck Wendig book after enjoying but not being completely blown away by The Blue Blazes, but I definitely liked Blackbirds more than I thought I would.See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum

  • Stepheny
    2019-06-09 04:56

    Thanks to a few like-minded weirdos I stumbled upon this little gem. I was supposed to be apart of a buddy read but everyone knows I’m a slow poke and everyone was finished with the book before I even got through chapter one. EITHER way, I was able to enjoy this book a great deal, and I have a forespecial thank you to hand out to Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan for gifting me a kindle copy of this here book. (I promise, we will get to book two before 2017. Scout’s honor.) And a few more thank-you’s go out to Kelly, Shelby and of course,my darling Delee for putting up with my slow-ass and “encouraging” me along the way. Jeff, I now understand your dislike of whips.Miriam Black is possibly one of the best female MCs ever written. She’s bad-ass. She takes no shit. She’s snarky as fuck. And has one of the best worst gifts known to man. If she comes in contact with you she witnesses your death. She watches it all play out in her head. The date, the time, the cause- no matter how boring or gruesome. As if the mindfuck of knowing the details of how someone is going to die isn’t enough, Miriam is unable to stop anyone’s death from occurring. Just think about that for a second…. We aren’t just talking about your run-of-the-mill, natural causes of death scenarios. We are talking about children, teenagers, mothers-to- be- all dying of different causes. And there is NOTHING she can do. Even if she tells them and they by random chance believe her, their new actions will only lead them to the same fate. So, dealing with this she does what anyone would do. She drinks and smokes and tries her best to separate herself from any real connections in life. She removes herself from family and friends. She lives on her own and puts everything into her journal. How does she live? Wellllll, she is sort of shameless. She maps out deaths in a calendar and takes what little cash they have on them after they’ve departed. To her defense, she only takes what she needs to move on to the next location and it isn’t like she has any chance of stopping the death from happening. She knows what she does* isn’t exactly right, but how many of us are able to throw stones?After taking a pretty bad beating and trying to move on to the next death, Miriam is picked up on the side of the road by Louis. Everything is going smoothly until he accidently comes in contact with her and she sees his death play out before her eyes. He says a name in her vision of his death…not just any name…. her name. What could this possibly mean??Now, before you all freak out that I have ROONT the whole story, be assured that I have not. This is just the tip. (teehee). It’s a good story, decent writing and even some sex scenes that I actually enjoyed. I look forward to checking out the second book with my BFF Dan sometime in the near future. ;) If you’ve been on the fence about this one, it is time to jump. Read it. Love it. Or get locked in my basement and suffer my wrath. :D

  • Tabitha (Pabkins)
    2019-05-25 00:55

    What have I to say about Miriam? I LOVE HER!! She is a A STOMP ASS, FOUL MOUTHED, ALCOHOL DRINKING, CIGARETTE SMOKING, FIRECRACKER OF A CHICK WITH DEATH DOGGING HER EVERY STEP!!! Haha, now not that those are especially iconic characteristics to have as a person. But hey, sometimes the good guys aren’t always “good” right?I don’t feel the blurb on Blackbirds is completely accurate after having read the book. Though it and the cover definitely were what drew me into reading it. Let me just say instead: Yes, she can see how someone is going to die simply by having skin on skin contact with you. A touch of the fingertip, graze of a bare shoulder, bump of a bit of uglies *cackles madly* and there she has it – in what is likely 2 seconds or less she will have witnessed in her mind’s eye all the gritty details of your death. Down to the minute of your demise!How was the blurb misleading? It stated that she would be the next victim to die – and she couldn’t very well know that because her own death is the one death that Miriam cannot see. Obviously, she is a troubled young woman. 8 years ago she gained the ability to see how others were going to meet their end. At first she thought she could try to prevent these deaths from happening, but repeated attempts have left her jaded and to put it frankly quite a bit mentally unhinged.Nowadays, she is a vagabond roamer – traveling around the country, strategically placing herself at these scenes of death she has previously witnessed in her visions. Why would she do this? Because she robs the bodies of the newly deceased of course! Just so she can keep moving forward, keep food and alcohol in her belly, and cigarettes on her lips to get through another day. All the while continuing to fill the pages in what is essentially her diary of death.All of this sounds very morbid and depressing doesn’t it? BUT WAIT! That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there are some gruesome parts in Blackbirds, but boy oh boy, was I laughing my ass off at some parts. Miriam is a queen of snark. It’s like she has some cutting thing to say back to everyone and often these things will just make you guffaw out loud. She’s a roadside trash type of girl, but you can also see the faded painted picture of a wonderful person underneath all of the scum she’s piled on top of herself.Wendig has an amazing way with making each character really come alive. Each had their own distinctive voice in my mind and I felt connected to each one of them! Usually, I find secondary character building to be lacking in the books I’ve read lately but these characters were all so well built up. Even one guy that didn’t seem to get as much ‘background info time,’ I felt was well done because you’re really supposed to feel like he’s a lame sidekick and just by his personality alone and the things he says and the way he’s treated that is exactly how I walked away feeling about him.The only questionable thing about Blackbirds to me was how she ended up getting this power. She does go into explaining it somewhat but then I feel like the explanation kind of jumps the train a little and you are supposed to pick up the rest from her so many visions/nightmares/flashbacks. Mostly these happen when she’s asleep – and during her dreams you can’t tell if that’s something that really did happen to her in the past or if it’s her mind warping it into something else. Now in the visions she sees of someone’s death, those are clear and crisp without any confusion as to how they are going to die. Because of this I know I’ll likely do a reread before the next book comes out. It’s probably my own fault for not catching it since I was eating every word on the page so fast.This is a must read for fans of paranormal books on the much darker and grittier side of things. I was hooked a few short pages in and could barely put Blackbirds down until I was finished. Talk about sending my eyes into eye-bleed mode. Miriam is a strong, but “dirty” character, so keep an open mind going in. If you are OK with a lot of cussing, very graphic death scenes, and a wee bit of sex, oh yes and blood, let’s not forget all the blood, then you will definitely love this book. For me that is an awesome mix, because I love serial killer, horror, thriller, grip me by the seat of my pants sort of stuff because I’d rather read it than watch it. But I know that this definitely won’t be for everyone. If you’re a reader that say - likes mostly Young Adult fiction and for it to be kept on the cleaner side, then Blackbirds might not be your cup of tea. I say give it a try anyway because you never know you might just find you’ll love it.

  • David Sven
    2019-05-19 06:55

    For some reason I thought this was supposed to be horror - it's not. I also thought the main protagonist was going to be black - but that's not really an afro on the cover...apparently.Anyway, Miriam Black has a gift...or maybe it's a curse - when she touches people skin to skin she sees there moment of death and knows when it's going to happen. So with great power comes great responsibility right? No, Miriam uses her powers to turn up at the right moment so she can rifle through the dead person's pockets for loose change. She's not greedy - she just takes what she needs.Miriam is a vagrant, trailer trash, potty mouthed, petty thief who steals from the dead for a living. She doesn't bother trying to save anyone she sees die because she's learnt long ago you can't change fate and all you end up doing is making what happens happen.I liked the premise of the story - it made me think of whether I would like to know when and where I would go. I don't think I would because as long as you don't know you can still hope or pretend you'll live forever. I didn't feel there was enough meat on the story or the characters to make this as dark as it could have been. Still, it's fast paced and action packed even if the bad guys were a little cliche - swap out "hairless" with "Albino" and you get the idea. A bit of splatter thrown in for those who like their chunky bits.A quick easy read that wasn't quite as dark as it wanted to be but at least it races along to its fated, fatal conclusion3.5 stars.

  • Paul Nelson
    2019-05-17 01:54

    Blackbirds is a dark, brutal, intensely written joyride of a book. Enjoyed it so much after the first 10 chapters I bought the second book of the series.Miriam Black is a young woman with an extraordinary curse, by touching someone skin to skin she can immediately see their final moments before death takes them, in such explicit detail that every moment is memorable.Miriam lives from day to day at the arse end of society, drifting from town to town, reduced to finding scores from the unfortunates whose time is almost up. She runs into a trucker named Louis and with some horror see's that she is there at his macabre killing. Thrown into turmoil, does she attempt to save him and divert fates hand or does she let it ride out knowing that if she gets involved she could well be the cause of his death, as has happened before every time she's tried to intervene.Miriam is a compelling and likeable antihero, tough as nails, she drinks and smokes like there's no tomorrow, she's cold and has a sharp tongue with a wit to match. A truly riveting character with so many flaws, its hard not to be totally drawn in by her.In fact all the characters are relevant, memorable and multi-dimensional, the lines between good and evil are definitly blurred to some extent. Everybody has a reason for doing what they do, everybody has a past and its an interesting, emotional journey discovering all their story's.The story is laid out in short impact chapters, I'm a big fan of this as my personnel ocd is to always stop reading at a chapters end, not that I check my back doors locked 20 times before I go to bed its just the way I like to readThere are chapters containing Miriam's grim and vivid dreams, her past, the violence that surrounds her and the supporting cast, including some particularly nasty individuals as they chase Miriam and the people she runs with all in pursuit of a caseload of drugs. The change's between past, present and dreams give an amazing insight into Miriam and the different characters without breaking up the pace and flow of the story - a credit to the author.I must admit I've never read anything like this, Wendig's writing style is sharp, distinctive and every word packs a sledgehammer of a punch, nothing's padded out and I have to thank the author for not toning anything down to fit a YA profile. I don't read many Urban Fantasy novels but coupled with the horror elements make this a fantastic read. Highly recommended and straight onto the next in the series.

  • Kimberly
    2019-05-22 23:46

    I found this book emotionally captivating right from the get-go! Miriam Black is a character that you can't help but root for. A woman who is able to "see" the deaths of everyone who's skin she comes in contact with, her life is edge-of-your-seat material at all moments. The writing flowed perfectly--language and situations fit the characters in every way. I had no idea what to expect at the end of the book, until I actually read it. At that point, I was left eagerly wanting to read more from this author. A fast-paced, unique horror ride that I can't recommend enough!Highly recommended!

  • Aleeeeeza
    2019-06-01 02:03

    2.5-2.75 starsreview before/while reading: readalong with jessie!EXCITEMENT!review after reading: EXCITEMENT!but unfortunately, this excitement was of a drastically different sort than the first one. as in, OH MY GOD I'M SO GLAD I HAVE SUCH GREAT SKIMMING POWERS OR I'D HAVE NEVER GOTTEN THROUGH THIS BOOK! kind of excitement.this book starts off wonderfully well. you have this broken-and-jaded-yet-filled-with-hilariously-witty--and-wry-quips main character and a great premise, and a general premonition of great things to come.except they never really do.now here's the thing. from the first effing page the novel's prose manages to set up a very grim, ironic tone. you know there's lots of darkness yet to come, yes, but the problem here is that the darkness just ratcheted up to beyond believable levels and that's where my main problem lies. it's true that there's quite a few quotable quotes and fantastic one-liners in the book but mostly the book's pock-marked with these ridiculous eye-widening-from-the-WTFery sort of descriptions and analogies. i had them highlighted but i deleted the book from my adobe digital editions in a frenzy of formerly mentioned finally-got-through-this-ordeal-excitement and so i lost them. but believe me when i say that the writing made me shake m head enough times to cause major whiplash. (#thisismebeingjustifiablyhyperbolic)other things i couldn't get were why the MC did some of the things she did. don't wanna give away any spoilers but once you start shaking your head at everything the MC decides to do it's almost always a very good indication that this book is going downhill for you and reeeal fast.what i do want to give credit to the author for is how well he whips out action scenes--using third-person present tense really helps in this regard. they're so smoothly written you might as well be watching an action scene in a movie (except in your head). also, the tension all through the last 20% or so was great-o, and that climax was pretty awesometastic too. if the middle hadn't been so difficult to trudge through (and the whole book not filled with insane blood-curling descriptions) i would've given this a four star fo' sho' and would've deffo read the sequel.i think you should still prolly give it a try if you can, though. keep in mind that it's gory as shit and vulgar as hell (don't even get me started on the sex scenes) and if you don't mind that too much, this would be the perfect book for you, i believe.

  • Ashley Daviau
    2019-06-17 04:49

    Holy freaking cow, this book is goddamn brilliant!!! From the very first page I was totally enthralled by both the story and the characters. Miriam has immediately become one of my all time favourite characters ever. She is foul mouthed and rude but she also has heart and is just so badass that I couldn't help but love her. Not to mention her awesome ability to see how people will die with a single touch. And then when have Louis who is just such a sweetheart that you can't help but love him too. Now this book is definitely not for the faint of heart, it's gory and violent and bloody and filled with scenes that made me cringe. But that just made this book better because as weird as it is, the more uncomfortable a book makes me, the more I love it. This book is nothing less than a masterpiece and I really could go on and on about how freaking great it was but I'll leave it at that because I have an urgent need to immediately start book two in this series!