My friend found a BookCrossing book before me and it made me insane with jealousy! I pick books off the ground all the time (seriously, it’s weird and is probably more often than not straight up theft) with hopes of finding one, but always to no avail. She let me read it because she’s awesome and because I asked, so everything is right in the world. Except, well, there is one big issue. This book was Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and man, did I fucking HATE this book.
After reading any of my posts about books, you’d quickly note that I love almost everything I’ve read, or that I can at least find something to appreciate. Not this one, though. No way.
I found the language to be obnoxious and unnecessary. Wendig curses like a misunderstood fourteen year old who just realized he could say bad words and not get grounded anymore. I feel like he tried to be creative with the slew of profanities he spewed, mixing them together in different ways. “Vampires are slicker than goose shit on a glass window.” Good one…? It came off as cheap and uninteresting instead. I curse like a mother fucking truck driver dammit, but I think that using swear words as a crutch is lazy writing. The effort he put into coming up with disgusting things for his main character to say could have been used to create believable dialogue and scenes, but maybe I’m just inexperienced.
Oh, but cursing isn’t the only place where Wendig felt to need to flex his creative muscles. He extended that to his depictions of gore and violence as well. There were many times where I put the book down and just stared out the window, thinking of all the ways I could better spend my time on the subway. Instead, here I was reading about how the “Hairless Fucker” (actually how he referred to a character for probably 100 pages or so) was slowly sawing off a male Ashley’s leg. Good thing the character immediately fell out of a moving car after and wasn’t mentioned again!
Let me save you the suffering of actually reading this book. Our heroine, Miriam, is a disgusting, pain in the ass cliche who needs to be smacked in the face with paper thin metaphors. And even then, other characters have to blatantly state them for her to finally understand. She has the curse of being able to see how anyone she comes into contact with dies — a boring, retired theme that was better left alone to die peacefully. So naturally, Miriam is pissed about this. She hates her life, hates everyone/everything, hate hate hate HATE. Every single thing she says is dripping with sarcastic and poorly constructed curse haikus, probably to hide her vulnerabilities or whatever. Chain smoking cigarettes, drinking, and stealing from the people whose deaths she’s seen are her “thing.” She isn’t ladylike, GODDAMMIT, and she dyes her hair black because it’s cold and dead like her soul, or something like that. CAN’T YOU JUST FEEL HER ANGST RADIATING FROM THE PAGES!?! I think that’s what Wendig must’ve been thinking as he furiously pounded on his keyboard, stringing together phrases of vulgarities as he channeled his inner-preteen.
Then there was the shoddy editorial work, which I guess I’m just a snob about. Every time Miriam came in contact with a person and saw their death, it would break off mid-sentence into an italicized paragraph. Except when it didn’t and you had to either figure out if Miriam/Wendig was having a stroke or if there was a vision of some sort happening. Missing periods, misplaced commas — but I’m the one who can’t get a steady job as a copy editor, right?
Unless you enjoy rolling your eyes so much until people on the subway think you have some sort of twitchy problem, then avoid this book. It’s not worth it. And oh, GOD — Google reports there’s a series of books featuring this horrifically two-dimensional character. WHO LET THIS HAPPEN!?