Despite being an avid follower and reader of terribleminds, Blackbirds is my very first Chuck Wendig novel and yes, normally I’m the “I-aint-gonna-follow-your-writing-advice-if-you’re-crap-at-it-too” kind of person (You might be surprised at how many bad books with advices about writing, written by people who have never published anything other than that one book before. It appals me, especially how one claims to be a pro when one has never ventured out into the waters oneself) but Wendig is special. His advice is clear and solid, his humour rings similar to mine—and this humour of his has seeped into the pages of Blackbirds as well. Though, you have to look past the violence and bitterness of reality, of course.
I have to admit that I found Miriam’s foul mouth hilarious because dang, that girl can swear more than all the potty-mouthed people I know in real life combined. I actually enjoyed her bitchiness (can I call it such?). It’s a breath of fresh air actually, particularly after having gone through a bunch of Haruki Murakami novels, on top of multiple YA heroines who pretty much share the same base personality traits. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ll put her on a pedestal or something like that. Miriam’s lack of maturity actually irks me but you can’t win them all, eh? She wouldn’t have been as realistic as she is if she were a matured person.
In terms of the writing style, I was a little annoyed because of the incomplete sentences (Pragmatics! Syntax!). I’m not certain of Wendig’s other novels but this time, I’m going to chalk this up to it being Miriam’s unique voice. Other than that, I mentioned violence, yes? Violence. Gore. Nitty, gritty details that I adore in crime, thriller and horror novels. Well, Wendig certainly does this more eloquently than Ryu Murakami! Friends warned me that I’d be ill from reading the descriptions in In the Miso Soup but no, that book triggered nothing in me. In fact, that book barely touches the echelon Blackbirds is on, much less Chris Carter’s Robert Hunter series. I’d be pretty interested in reading a horror book by Wendig if he ever decides to venture there.
As much as I want to say that I’m completely in love with this fast-paced book, I have to shake my head instead. Miriam is interesting, her ability is also interesting (I can’t say more because being exposed to anime, manga and games has rapidly expanded my bubble) and the story moves forward with just about every paragraph. Maybe it’s because of the incomplete sentences or maybe it’s because this book belongs to a series, but Blackbirds leans a little too much on the skinny side. There’s not enough “meat” on its bones to be healthy—not enough variation in emotions for characters like Louis or Ashley. If I switch off the part of my mind where I read for pleasure and entertainment, and instead switch on the one I use for academic purposes, I might even say that Miriam is flat, that the plot has holes, that this is more action than emotion and whatnot.
I won’t label this a book for men because of the amount of dick jokes, “blumpy” (Warning: Google at your own risk!) and gore—that’s just silly, considering how no one’s born into one same generic mode and that everyone has different perspectives. However, I won’t recommend this to anyone with a low tolerance of nastiness either. As badly written as I think In the Miso Soup is, if you can’t tolerate the gore there, don’t touch Blackbirds. End of the story.