Jo's Reviews > Blackbirds

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
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bookshelves: horror

I've been waiting to read this book for a year. I love Chuck Wendig's blog (, think his writing advice is top-notch, and have enjoyed everything of his I've ever read. Blackbirds has great reviews, and a premise that was instantly appealing. I knew I would love this book.

Perhaps my expectations were set a little too high.

Miriam Black is a royally screwed up individual. When she makes skin-to-skin contact with someone for the first time, she automatically sees how they're going to die. She can't change it, she can only bear witness to it. So she makes a living as a scavenger, being present when people die and taking what she needs from them: money, credit cards, belongings. But when she finds someone she desperately wants to save, things get.... interesting.

I loved Miriam Black.
I loved the premise.
I loved the story.
I loved the writing style.

I hated the way the story was told. By which I mean, the narrative structure. I hated it so much, it took me over a month to read this book, even though I really, really, really wanted to enjoy it and I desperately wanted to know how it would end.

The chapters in Blackbirds are incredibly short. Not a problem in itself. But each chapter switches perspective. From present day Miriam, to past Miriam, to present Miriam, to first person supporting character, to present Miriam, to dreaming Miriam, to Present Miriam, to first person bad guy, to ... and so on.

The combination of very short chapters and irregularly changing time, space, and character perspectives left me feeling dizzy and disengaged, and made it impossible for me to lose myself in the book and the character. I really liked Miriam. I wanted to relate to her. But I kept being forced to jump outside her head-space and into someone else's. And that, I didn't like.

I honestly think most of the chapters told from someone else's perspective could have been completely cut out without it affecting the story at all. And those few bits that were relevant would have been more engaging had they been expressed from Miriam's perspective.

Now, let me make something clear. This is a personal preference. Perhaps I would feel differently if I didn't read so much 1st person POV fiction. Perhaps I would feel differently if I was in a position where I ever read for more than 10 minutes in a single sitting. Perhaps I would feel differently if I was in a different mood, at a different time of my life.

Whatever the case, this was a good book. The writing is just divine -- expressive and full of depth and meaning. The characters are interesting, the plot is interesting, the ending sets up the next book perfectly. So I do recommend it. But with the caveat to beware perspective changes.

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Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Laura Libricz I liked that one :-)

message 2: by Jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jo I'm not enjoying it as much as I thought I would, unfortunately. I think my expectations may have been a little high.

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