Review: “Blackbirds,” Chuck Wendig

Pros: Raucous, whirlwind adventure
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Chuck Wendig brings us Blackbirds (1) (Miriam Black), book one of a six-book series. Miriam Black has a unique ability: when she touches someone skin-to-skin, she sees how that person will die. She’s been trying for years to figure out how to change fate, but no matter what she does she can’t keep people from dying. So now, instead, she finds people who are going to die very soon, tracks them until they do, and liberates the cash in their wallets. She isn’t exactly “suited” to a 9-to-5 job, so she hitchhikes all over the place and lives off of the cash she collects. Then she meets Louis. He’s a very nice trucker who seems interested in her. But when she touches him, she discovers that he’s due to die in about a month, tortured and killed with her name on his lips. She flees him, only to get roped into helping out a con artist, a guy named Ashley, with her ability. But Ashley has a secret–he stole a suitcase full of drugs. And there are three people on his trail looking for that case–three people with a taste for torture and murder.

Ingersoll, Frankie, and Harriet–the three people after Ashley–are fascinating creatures. Harriet likes to hurt people, and her story of how she got that way is really fascinating for all of the questions it doesn’t answer. Frankie is a very reluctant thug, giving him a bit of instant depth. And Ingersoll has no hair whatsoever, and is obsessed with a bunch of bones he carries with him. Once he finds Miriam’s diary, he becomes obsessed with her.

There’s plenty of danger, adventure, and close calls. Miriam is a cynical young woman with a lot of hard times in her past. Ashley is a self-serving ass, but the two of them strike a chord with each other. Miriam really is something of a vulture, keeping a datebook with notes on who’s going to die when so she can go rifle through their things when it happens. It’s interesting to see her waver on whether she wants to get close to Louis, and whether she wants to do it for her usual reasons, or maybe try once again to see whether she’s able to change fate.

All in all this is a really fun book and I can’t wait to read more of the series.

Content note for lots of salty language, slurs, death, sex, violence, and torture.

“I’m a wait-and-see kind of girl. More vulture than falcon.”

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