The Book Review That Wasn’t: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Once in a while, I stumble upon a book that I just cannot find it within me to finish. I hate not finishing books, but sometimes it simply can’t be helped. Life is too short to finish books we’re not diggin’. Seriously, it is way too short for that shit.

Unfortunately, Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds is one such book for me. I bought it on the recommendation of a coworker. I think he had listened to an audio version of it, so I couldn’t exactly borrowed it from him. Plus, I have a real problem with books. It’s a damn stroke of luck that I haven’t had my house foreclosed upon on account of my reckless non-budget when it comes to book spending. I’ve gotten better lately. Mostly because I fell into a reading lull – aka a time of epic suckitude when I just can’t get into books. Any books. So yeah, of course, if I can’t even be arsed to read things I know I’d like, then my wallet stops weeping money for a spell.

Cue Blackbirds, the first book I’ve bought for a while (hmm, at least a month…probably closer to three – which is an absolute eternity for me). So that makes it doubly shittastic that I can’t finish the crapfest that is Blackbirds.

Dig the cover art.
Dig the cover art.

Here’s the deal – I knew going in that it’s outside my preferred genre. It’s a gritty thriller, which isn’t really my thing. But sometimes things that aren’t my thing can be my thing if the writer tricks me into thinking it was really my thing all along. (Bullshit. That sentence was not convoluted. I do not convolute. Hmph.)

99 Problems, and the Bitch is the Biggest One

Beware of spoilers.

I get it, okay? Miriam Black has a horrible ability that has caused her to live life in the fringes of society. Which means it’s dirty and foul and dangerous, and so she has had to toughen up. The shit upon girl with a heart of gold and balls of steel, hardened to survive. Vicious as a defense mechanism. I get it. It’s totally cliche, but fine. People can still write about cliches and make them good. I’m fine with tropes when done well. But Miriam is filthy. I mean, she’s downright gutter trash filthy. I’m half way through the book, and I haven’t found a single redeeming quality. And she’s the one I’m supposed to be rooting for! She’s hateful and spiteful and opportunistic and cruel and sadistic. I hate Miriam. I feel sorry for her, but it’s a tough sympathy to maintain when I despise her character so very much.

All Guts, No Glory

There is so much gore in this book. I can handle some gore in horror films, emphasis on some. But horror and gore lit are definitely outside my realm of interest. Too many gut splattering, eyeball gouging, blood pooling scenes for me.

Is this Snuff? No, really, is it?

Miriam will do anything to survive – at least that’s what we’re supposed to believe. But really, halfway into the book and all I can see is that she uses her ability to manipulate and rob people in their last moments. Hell, she stalks them for weeks, months…by keeping their dates of death in her planner. She justifies her actions because they’re going to die anyway. She’s just an opportunist, capitalizing on their deaths.

Among the anythings she will do is sex. Any sex, any flavor, any style, anywhere, anybody. There are graphic moments where she’s being fingered. Look, I can handle a sex scene. If written and incorporated properly, it can be hot without being porny. But this shit right here…this shit Wendig writes is at least borderline snuff. There’s a lengthy scene (I thought it would never end) where Miriam is having a death vision while having sex. She reaches orgasm while having a vision of the man’s death – the man she’s fucking. And Miriam thinks to herself that it’s the best orgasm she’s had in ages…because she was picturing his death at the same time.

That. That. Was some twisted, gross shit. And it’s just not my thing. It makes me uncomfortable – and not in a challenge my philosophies and worldview kinda way. More like I just ate something rotten and feel nauseated. That kinda discomfort.

~

For people who dig books that fall into the same genre as Blackbirds, you’ll love it. It’s easily written. It’s definitely no head-scratcher. I could finish it tonight if I wanted to. But I just can’t muster up the will to read any more of it. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth – it doesn’t help that I’m a visual reader. I picture Everything I read. Everything. So that’s not helping.

If you like Stephen King (rant rant I hate Stephen King), you’ll dig it. If you liked American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you might like this. (Dudes, I love Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Perhaps I’ll talk about that later. But American Gods was not my jam.) If you’re into horror, scary sex, and way more cursing than even I do – then you’ll be fine with this book.

Now what the hell am I supposed to do with my copy? Tossing it is out of the question. One does not simply toss a book! Bleh. I hate not finishing books. Thanks a lot, Chuck.

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