Miriam Black knows when you will die.
Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But 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.
Be forewarned: Blackbirds in a dark tale with vulgar language and visceral descriptions. As such, my review will be littered with more colorful language.
When I described Blackbirds to a fellow reviewer/reader I said it was disastrous and gritty. I said it was the most lovely train wreck. And that I hadn’t been able to put it down since the first page of the sample. It’s the kind of read that if I had balls, it would have grabbed me by them from the first sentence and kept a viselike grip until the last. I didn’t regret it. I relished it.
Wendig’s style is ridiculously plain-faced, made up of short, sharp punches and bright-knife-flash descriptions. You can’t help but be mesmerized. But if you’re into flowery settings dripping with page-length descriptions, this isn’t the book for you. The settings are a backdrop (just the way I like it): you’re given an impression, a glimpse to put you in the scene before you’re plunged back into the stomachache that is this plot. (That sounds bad, but it is so good.)
A breathless, side-stitich inducing, dull roar of a headache. That’s Blackbirds.
Miriam, our main character and a microscope for us to dissect the darkest bits and pieces of humanity, leads us from one nameless motel to another, strung between a handful of states. We follow her aimless roaming until she runs into Ashley, a man with a girl’s name and the heart of a true pansy. Meeting Ashley changes everything for Miriam, because for once, someone’s fate tangles enough with hers to derail her couldn’t-care-less vagabond life. Nail-biting story made short: his bad shit collides with hers and she’s determined to escape it and do the one thing she’s never done: save someone from the fate she’s foretold. Because Miriam can see how you die. If she touches you.
I’ve never read a character like Miriam. She’s done and continues to do bad things, even to innocent people. She’s got a mouth like a gutter tripe and a mind just as vile, a mind that is broken like a mirror that reflects the delusions of all of the wrong choices she’s ever made. But I root for her. Her life was/is one big, bubbling cesspool and the harder she struggles to get out of the it, the faster and the deeper she sinks. Her supporting characters range from the void of mortality that is the ultimate-oh-shit bad guy Ingersoll to the rare pinpoint of brightness that is Louis.
All in all, Blackbirds is a tightly clenched fist just waiting to sock you one. In the solar plexus. Which is apparently a bundle of very sensitive nerves to untrained
fighters readers. And I give it big, fat A+. Read it. As soon as possible. Go, now.