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The Investigation by Philippe Claudel

January 27, 2013

The Investigator is despatched to a provincial town to investigate a disturbing spate of suicides amongst the employees of The Firm. But from the moment he steps off the train, he finds that everything is against him, from the hostile weather to the town’s bewildering inhabitants. Cold, hungry and humiliated, always one step behind, he finds himself in a recurring nightmare that waking cannot break. And yet his resolve never falters: he remains determined to find the only man he can hold to account – The Firm’s legendary but elusive founder.

I became a big fan of French writer Philippe Claudel back in 2010 after reading the wonderful Monsieur Linh and His Child. The first thing that struck me about his latest novel, The Investigation, was how incredibly different it sounded to his previous work, but also how deliciously intriguing it appeared to be, and I can now safely say that my first thoughts definitely did not deceive…

This is a rather difficult novel to review in some aspects, because despite how inconceivably brilliant it was, I still can’t really tell you what the hell actually happened. All we know is that a man who calls himself the investigator turns up to an unnamed town to investigate a number of suicides that occur amongst the employees of a place known as The Firm. At first he has a slightly hard time even getting to The Firm as everything you could possibly imagine getting in his way, did, and I mean from the plausible to the downright ridiculous. In fact, some of it is a little laugh-out-loud funny. But it never feels so ridiculous that you feel like you should stop reading. In fact, Claudel’s masterful writing pulls you in and leaves you dangling on a thread, tempting you with the answer to what’s really going on here, and you’re left turning page after page; desperate to get there. I’m not going to tell you how it all comes to an end, because frankly the journey there is what makes this novel so unique in a way I’ve never encountered before. Everything the investigator encounters may seem ridiculous at first, but once you delve deeper, you soon realise that everything you thought about this book may be wrong. Who is the investigator? Who is The Firm? It’s not long before the investigator begins to doubt his whole existence, and you’re right there with him experiencing it in the most unsettling fashion.

The Investigation is a dark, haunted, twisted novel that will intrigue you perhaps more than any other novel you read this year. It will make you think about the world and everyone around you in a whole new light, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be left gasping after the last page just trying to figure out what it is you’ve just read. Of course, if you’re a lot smarter I’m sure you’ll have some intelligent well-thought-out answer ready to hand. I would love to see this as a film one day, one of those low-budget indie films that can really examine the depths of this deceptively simple story. If you love a book that makes you feel unsettled to your very core and leaves you with more questions than answers then this is definitely a book for you, and one I’d highly recommend.

The Investigation is out now, published by MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus. A big thank you goes to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Rating stars4

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The Explorer by James Smythe

January 19, 2013

When journalist Cormac Easton is selected to document the first manned mission into deep space, he dreams of securing his place in history as one of humanity’s great explorers.

But in space, nothing goes according to plan.

The crew wake from hypersleep to discover their captain dead in his allegedly fail-proof safety pod. They mourn, and Cormac sends a beautifully written eulogy back to Earth. The word from ground control is unequivocal: no matter what happens, the mission must continue.

But as the body count begins to rise, Cormac finds himself alone and spiralling towards his own inevitable death … unless he can do something to stop it.

 

Despite trying and failing to read James Smythe’s previous novel, The Testimony, last year, I still really wanted to read The Explorer as soon as I heard about it. Space has always been a subject that fascinates me so I couldn’t say no to reviewing it, and for the most part, I’m glad I didn’t.

I started off somewhat hesitant, unsure as to whether or not I’d like it considering I didn’t get on so well with The Testimony, but what I remember most about that book is that despite all the reasons that I found for not finishing it, I can still respect James as a writer with some truly intriguing ideas. The Explorer is certainly no exception here. If there’s one thing it excels in, it’s within James’s ideas.

The idea of a space mission gone wrong isn’t exactly original, and you may even read the blurb and expect something of the sort, but nothing could possibly prepare you for the bizarre twists it takes along the way. I can’t say too much for fear of ruining it for potential readers, but it does leave you in slight awe for how even James could get his head around his own ideas, let alone us readers. You know from the blurb that this journalist, Cormac, embarks on a space mission with a crew of astronauts who one by one, begin to die. But James is exceedingly clever here, his twist allows him to explore the circumstances of each death in a way I’ve never seen done before. It’s an unsettling and claustrophobic read but you will get to a point where it becomes so intense that you can’t quite put it down. The feeling of loneliness, and complete and utter hopelessness pervades every scene in the book, and I ended up feeling terrified for this little band of people, and in particular, Cormac, who willingly embark on this journey to realise their dreams, to become nothing short of unforgettable. Sadly, they have little idea as to what awaits them, and the fact that you as a reader know this, is almost unbearable.

But despite all the wonderful ideas and themes explored, it’s not without its flaws. To begin with I started to remember what it was I didn’t like so much about The Testimony. The style of writing often feels very journalistic in a way that becomes a little irritating within a novel. Now obviously the story does revolve around a journalist, so I tried to see past it, but there really is something about his style that doesn’t quite agree with me. Like The Testimony there is also a tremendous amount of repetition that had me skim-reading for a few pages here and there just trying to get to the good stuff. There was an awful lot of flashbacks to Cormac’s past involving his wife, and I grew really, really tired of these, and felt there were far too many of them. I can understand that the story needed fleshing out a little, but I would have liked to have seen a little more space exploration rather than character exploration.

A fellow blogger told me that the ending blew him away, and I suddenly became very excited to see where this bizarre story would end and what Cormac’s fate would ultimately be. Sadly I felt nothing but frustrated by the ending, and wondered what I’d missed. I even re-read the last page just to be sure. There is a definite lack of answers and I couldn’t help but feel slightly short-changed.

Having got over most of the frustration, I am now able to look back on The Explorer and think of it as a gripping read with some great, yet bizarre ideas, that worked for the most part but failed in others. I would have even rated this four out of five if it wasn’t for the really frustrating ending. In a strange sort of way, James excites me as an author and there’s no doubt that his ideas intrigue me. I feel like he could write something really ground-breaking one day, but I have yet to say I’ve read anything of his that I’ve really enjoyed. Almost, but not quite.

The Explorer is out now, published by Harper Voyager. A big thank you goes to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Rating stars3

Wool by Hugh Howey

January 14, 2013

In a ruined and hostile landscape, in a future few have been unlucky enough to survive, a community exists in a giant underground silo.

Inside, men and women live an enclosed life full of rules and regulations, of secrets and lies.

To live, you must follow the rules. But some don’t. These are the dangerous ones; these are the people who dare to hope and dream, and who infect others with their optimism.

Their punishment is simple and deadly. They are allowed outside.

Jules is one of these people. She may well be the last.

 

You may have heard of Wool already, with it already being touted as the next self-publishing phenomenon following Fifty Shades of Grey, with some articles even questioning whether science fiction is the new erotica. Wool was in fact originally self-published by Howey as a short story back in 2011, but due to its popularity he soon expanded it into a story of five parts, now published for the first time as one volume. As soon as I read the synopsis of Wool and saw its beautiful new cover, I knew this was a book for me.

With one of my colleagues absolutely loving it, and another failing to finish it, I was slightly anxious to begin and see where my own opinion would lie, and as is typical of me, I fell somewhere in between. I found Howey’s ideas of people living as a community in an underground silo, unable to go out into the deadly atmosphere of the world, really intriguing. This is where self-publishing often triumphs; and without such a tool we, as readers, would fail to come across some really great ideas, but without the help of the crucial editor, the writing can often fail to deliver those ideas in a way that lives up to its potential. I think this is probably what has happened here. Howey’s writing isn’t awful by all means, at times it’s very good, but there are a lot of pacing issues and I can’t help but feel that this novel seems like more of a character study than a sci-fi epic. The world needed developing as much as its characters, and unfortunately it never quite got there for me.

The other issue is of course that you can’t help but see it as a short story turned novel. The first ‘part’ feels like a very tight and concisely written story, and the following parts feel like they have a fair bit of padding that slows the pace right down.

Now I don’t mean to put a complete downer on this debut. All issues aside, it is a very entertaining read that had me turning page after page, desperate to find out what would happn next, who would survive and who would die. Like I said, there are some really intriguing ideas here, and perhaps the most important of all is why they are in an underground silo in the first place. I’m not going to ruin it for you of course, but I do love the way Howey slowly teases you with the answers. Lots of other reviewers have questioned the believability of it all, whether certain things would make scientific sense or not, but quite frankly I never care much for these sorts of questions. If the author can make a piece of fiction plausible, then I’m willing to believe it, and I could certainly believe in the world Howey has created here.

If apocalyptic sci-fi is your thing, and you’re looking for an entertaining read that will take you on a journey with some great characters then please do read Wool. The ideas are brilliant, but the execution could’ve used an extra helping hand. Everything is there on the page to make this a truly great sci-fi novel, I just can’t help but wish the editor took it into their own hands and gave it the make-over it needs. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing what Hugh Howey comes out with next.

Wool is out on the 17th January, published by Century. A big thank you goes to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Rating stars3

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

January 8, 2013

Ezekiel Blue’s father committed a crime, unleashing a deadly menace into steampowered Seattle. And his bereaved family has paid the price. Now, Ezekiel is determined to clear his father’s name, risking death and the undead in the attempt. Sixteen years ago, as the American Civil War dawned, gold brought hordes to the frozen Klondike. Fanatical in their greed, Russian prospectors commissioned Dr Leviticus Blue to create a great machine, to mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine was born. But the Boneshaker went awry, destroying downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas. Anyone who breathed its fumes turning into the living dead. The devastated city is now walled in to contain the blight. But unknown to Briar, his widowed mother, Ezekiel is going in. His quest will take him into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.

 

Winner of the Locus Award in 2010 for Best Science Fiction Novel, Boneshaker and the rest of the Clockwork Century books are a series I’ve wanted to read for some time now. With it just being published in the UK by Tor at long last, I jumped at the chance to review it! After all, you can’t really go wrong with steampunk and zombies, can you?

For the first 100 pages or so, I absolutely loved this book. I was completely sucked into this world Priest had created; one absolutely decimated by a machine called the Boneshaker which unearthed a deadly gas across Seattle. After a giant wall was built to contain the gas, the people are now left living on the outskirts, including Ezekiel and his mother Briar; the son and wife of the man who created the Boneshaker. But Ezekiel is on a mission to prove his innocence and he begins an adventure inside the walled town to find their old house where the machine was made in the first place. I have to admit, Ezekiel quickly became a bit of an annoying and slightly tame character who I slowly lost patience with. The best character for me was without a doubt his mother, Briar, who goes on a hunt to find him and bring him home. The book is split into alternating chapters between the two characters, and although it’s obviously a good tactic to keep up with both characters on their separate journeys, sometimes it felt a little too repetitive, and you never really get enough time to get hooked into either with the constant going back and forth.

As I read on, I began to feel that Priest had created a fantastic world here, with some really great characters; particularly those who Briar meets along the way, and she has designed all the tropes here for a really great adventure story. The sad fact is, it somehow lacks the adventure part. For most of the novel you’re either following Ezekiel through the underground passages with the constant worry that he will run out of air with his mask on, and be forced to breathe in the deadly gas, and then watch him as he runs from one pack of zombies to the next, or you’re following Briar doing pretty much the exact same thing. There wasn’t enough going on to make it a really great read for my liking, and I began to wonder exactly why it was nominated for so many awards.

So to sum up, I found Boneshaker to be a good read, but not a great one. I expected much more from a Locus Award Winner, and with such an exciting premise I expected a lot more adventure! However, I did enjoy the world Priest created and I will be reading the second in the Clockwork Century series, but I have to say this is only because I know it follows a completely different set of characters. If it was continuing with Ezekiel and Briar, I probably wouldn’t continue with it. I really do have high hopes for the second novel, and I only hope Priest delivers as much as she promises.

Boneshaker is out now, published by Tor, and a big thank you goes to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

Rating stars3

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

January 4, 2013

The Lighthouse begins on a North Sea ferry, on whose blustery outer deck stands Futh, a middle-aged, recently separated man heading to Germany for a restorative walking holiday.

Spending his first night in Hellhaus at a small, family-run hotel, he finds the landlady hospitable but is troubled by an encounter with an inexplicably hostile barman.

In the morning, Futh puts the episode behind him and sets out on his week-long circular walk along the Rhine. As he travels, he contemplates his childhood; a complicated friendship with the son of a lonely neighbour; his parents’ broken marriage and his own. But the story he keeps coming back to, the person and the event affecting all others, is his mother and her abandonment of him as a boy, which left him with a void to fill, a substitute to find.

He recalls his first trip to Germany with his newly single father. He is mindful of something he neglected to do there, an omission which threatens to have devastating repercussions for him this time around.

At the end of the week, Futh, sunburnt and blistered, comes to the end of his circular walk, returning to what he sees as the sanctuary of the Hellhaus hotel, unaware of the events which have been unfolding there in his absence.

 

Shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, The Lighthouse is one of those books I probably would never have picked up if it wasn’t for all the hype surrounding it. There seemed to be an explosion of tweets raving about this novel published by indie publisher Salt, after it’s Man Booker nomination, and I thought it was about time I discovered what all the fuss was about.

If I’m honest, the blurb does very little for me. Like I said, it’s not the sort of story that appeals to me, and it’s not something I would have picked up. But as soon as you read the first couple of pages it’s easy to see why it was considered for such a prestigious award. Alison Moore’s writing is brimming with talent and a heartfelt depth I have only come across a handful of times. She creates such an overwhelming sense of suspense and dread that you can’t help but be drawn into the life of Futh, and this journey he is embarking upon. You know from the beginning that this is not going to be a story with a happy ending; that something sinister is going to occur. My main gripe is that about half way through the novel, it’s fairly easy to see how it’s all going to end, and when it finally happens, it becomes a bit of a damp squib.

For me, The Lighthouse is a brilliantly written novel, but not one without its flaws. If you’re going to build up so much suspense, then it should at least be built up towards something you don’t see coming. However, I am glad I’ve finally got around to reading it, and I will certainly be looking out for future publications from Alison Moore. The Lighthouse is almost certainly not a novel for everyone, but if you enjoy quiet, suspenseful novels full of reminiscing and ponderings on life, then this is a novel for you. If you like fast-paced, gritty adventures then this probably won’t be your cup of tea! However, like I said this isn’t a book I would have chosen to pick up, and yet I still enjoyed it and that’s all in testament to the quality of Moore’s writing.

The Lighthouse is out now, published by Salt Publishing.

Rating stars3

My Top Ten Books of 2012

December 30, 2012

 

 

So it’s that time of year again where all us bloggers must somehow narrow it down to our favourite books of the year. It’s always a tough decision – not only narrowing it down to only 10, but trying to decide which book deserves which spot! Well the winner may not come as much of a surprise, especially for those who followed this blog exactly one year ago, but I hope my top ten books of 2012 will at least introduce you to some fantastic new books that you have yet to read! 

 

10. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

This incredible novel about a couple who find a baby washed up in a boat on the shores of the isolated island on which they live, completely took me by surprise. I don’t think at the time I imagined it would make my top ten by the end of the year, but it really is one that has stayed with me and I struggled to find anything else that could better it.

I can barely fault Stedman at all here. For me, The Light Between Oceans achieved what Charlotte Rogan failed to do in The Lifeboat. I know many of you loved The Lifeboat, but I really failed to connect to any of the characters, and felt that it wasn’t quite addressing the matter of life and death, and the choices we make and their consequences, as well as I would have liked. But Stedman achieves this and does so exceedingly well.

Read my full review here.

 

9. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I can safely say it will certainly not be my last. What stands out above all else with this novel is the sheer quality of Eugenides’ writing that will instantly make you fall in love with the whole book and its characters. It’s a great book for anyone with a love of literature as we follow Melanie’s student life in the throes of writing that all important dissertation on none other than the marriage plot; a convention used in Victorian literature to depict whether or not the hero and heroine would get married.

I’d almost forgotten what it was like to read a novel written by a truly great writer. Sure, I’ve read some great novels over the years that I have loved and cherished and raved about. But there is definitely something about Eugenides that just makes you want to curl up and read everything he has ever written, and then wait in earnest for him to write more. The Marriage Plot is a perfect example of great modern literature that could easily become a classic in 100 years time, and I can’t wait to devour more of his work.

Read my full review here.

8. Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

This novel follows the story of Liz Crane as she moves into her now-deserted farmhouse that once belonged to her uncle. Living there alone she watches the land deteriorate day by day and reminisces over the lives of her family and their ancestors. I had never heard of Jane Urquhart, let alone read any of her six previous novels; this novel came out of nowhere and blew me away, and slowly put me back together again. I can’t even begin to tell you just how beautiful Jane’s prose is here, and how I have wanted to devour more of her work ever since.

 I have truly been left in awe of Jane Urquhart and her incredible talent as a writer. I have already added more of her novels to my wish list, and really cannot wait to explore more. Sanctuary Line may not be the bestseller of the year, or the most popular novel, in fact, you may not have heard of it yet. But trust me when I say, this is better than most bestseller’s I’ve read in the last year! If you appreciate great writing and are looking for a story that will stay with you forever, then go and buy Sanctuary Line. I’m already looking forward to reading it again.

Read my full review here.

7. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

What better to have on my top ten than my first ever audiobook? I still have yet to read anything by the great Ernest Hemingway, but this insight into his life and his first marriage with Hadley Richardson is a truly wonderful, yet very honest depiction. It made such a huge impression on me that I couldn’t bear to not include in my top ten!

Hemingway went on to marry three more women after Hadley, and as a reader, you can’t help but get a sense that McLain wanted to give Hadley a voice. She has been known ever since as ‘the Paris wife’ – but who was this woman? McLain has clearly done her research, and I think she paints a beautiful yet tragically honest portrait of their relationship, and their individual characters. McLain also does a wonderful job of bringing the roaring twenties to life and I can’t help but envy them for this wonderful era they lived through, and in the city of Paris, which inspired so many of the world’s greatest writers.

Read my full review here.

6. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

This book has received an awful lot of hype this year from countless bloggers, but I can safely say this is one book that truly deserves all such praise. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, let alone this year, and the imaginative characters that have come to life from Valente’s mind have successfully whisked me away on a journey I haven’t quite been able to return from just yet. If you like all things fairytale-esque and whimsical, please do yourself a favour and pick this up!

Some people out there may assume this is only a children’s story, and far too childish for adults to enjoy. But believe me when I say no matter what age you are, you will fall in love with this story. Whether you’re an adult reading it aloud to your child (which it seems perfectly made for), or you’re reading it for your own pleasure, you will be full of nostalgia for your own childhood and the magical stories your imagination either created or stepped into, whether it be through a wardrobe or a rabbit hole.

Read my full review here.

5. Railsea by China Mieville

If you know me at all you’re probably not surprised the latest offering from China Mieville has made its way on to my top ten; but it has definitely earned its place, let me tell you! Inspired by the great Moby Dick, Mieville has created a world of criss-crossing train tracks, and giant moles. Climb aboard the Medes moletrain and join Sham as he takes part in the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole; Mocker Jack.  This is possibly the most fun I’ve had all year, and I am ridiculously excited to see what Mieville will do next!

Railsea is everything an adventure story should be, and more. With enough twists and turns, and danger lurking at every corner, you really will be kept on the edge of your seat waiting to see where the tracks of the railsea will take you. Each character seeks something seemingly unattainable; whether it be Sham trying to find his place in the world, or Captain Naphi seeking the ivory-coloured mole who took her own arm in battle, or the two precious twins Caldera and Dero who live on a salvage heap, virtually orphans after their parents failed to return to them.  Each character is so wonderfully written and so vividly brought to life, that I felt every possibly ounce of emotion for these people who felt nothing shy of friends to me.

Read my full review here.

4. The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

I have to admit after seeing so much heavy criticism for this book when it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, it sat on my shelf unread for quite some time. But then of course it amazed everyone and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and I knew I had to read this book to see why it was so heavily disliked by the literary world, and so adored by the SF community. I instantly felt at home with the voice of Jessie; a young girl trying to create her own place in a world where millions of women are dying from an unknown virus activated by pregnancy; meaning we are a dying species and at threat from extinction. It’s a fascinating concept and just writing about it again makes me want to dig it out from my shelves and give it a re-read!

I absolutely loved this book, so much so that it actually took me by surprise to find it so heavily criticised. What is it about this book that makes it so shunned by the literary community, and praised by the sci-fi community? Although there are obvious elements of science fiction in it, it doesn’t read much like sci-fi, to me anyway. The whole scenario certainly feels plausible and a little too real at times. So what was it about this book that made people criticise its inclusion on the Man Booker long list? And yet with all the criticism surrounding the Arthur C. Clarke award short list, this was mostly the one title people agreed should win the award. Maybe it’s just a case of if you read sci-fi, you’re a little more open-minded to these futuristic scenarios, or maybe it’s the young-adult feel to the language of the novel that makes it not quite literary enough for the likes of the Man Booker Prize? Who knows…

Read my full review here.

3. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This novel was without a doubt my favourite of the carefully selected Waterstones 11 this year, and I was very surprised by how much I related to this novel and the character of Julia as she tries to grow up in a world where the Earth’s rotation begins to slow, causing devastating consequences. It’s a perfect mix of SF and coming-of-age and Walker’s writing is effortlessly beautiful throughout.

I couldn’t help but feel so much for Julia’s character. She has more to deal with than anyone ever should at her age. Her mother grows increasingly ill as a side-effect from ‘the slowing’, her father is barely at home and telling more and more lies each day, the boy she loves is dealing with the death of his own mother, and playing with Julia’s emotions in the process. And on top of all of that, she has to come to terms with losing the simple pleasures in life such as eating a banana or a grape, trying to recall the last time she ate one and wishing she’d known she’d never taste it again.

Read my full review here.

 

2. The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

I have been trying to get people reading this book ever since I read it. It’s literally one of the most beautiful and most stunning pieces of writing I have read so far in my life and I can’t find a bad word to say about it. Let Margo entice you into the legends of the selkies as the outcast sea witch Miskaella casts her spells to pull women out of the bodies of seals to seduce the local fishermen. I have been left in complete awe of Margo Lanagan’s wonderful talents, and I am extremely excited to see what she will write next, I only hope it will be soon!

From the very first page I was completely taken with Lanagan’s beautiful, lyrical, and haunting prose. I felt as though I were there, living on this island with these men and women who became entranced by the seals living on their shores. I could hear the waves crashing, the seagulls squalling, and smell the salt in the air.

Read my full review here.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is probably number one on many, many lists this year, and I hate to be boring and pick the same, but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t pick this as my favourite novel of 2012. I read this back in January and straight away I said it would be a hard book to beat for my favourite of the year, and I was right. It’s amazing how long a book can stay with you for, and what an incredible emotional impact words can have on a person. I laughed and cried, and cried, and cried my way through these pages, as you can imagine with a story handling the rather tricky topic of kids with cancer, but my god were they some of the best pages I’ve ever read in my life! I literally cannot recommend this book enough. It is the most honest portrayal of cancer I’ve ever read, and John Green proves himself as the perfect writer to tackle such a topic. I will never forget Augustus and Hazel. Never.

This is a book that will make you laugh out loud and cry bucketfuls of tears, and it really will stay with you for the rest of your life. I can already see myself re-reading it countless times, and every time I sell it to someone, or recommend it to someone I get a little bubble of happiness inside, and a lump in my throat. This is a book that deserves to be read and shared with everyone you know.

Read my full review here.

 

 

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

December 7, 2012

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. 

I managed to get a review copy of Blackbirds from the wonderful NetGalley, and I have to say it’s probably the best book I’ve read and reviewed from there so far! I’m not usually so into the urban fantasy genre as much as others, but there was something about Blackbirds that not only intrigued me, but struck me as something a little different.

I’ve never read anything by Chuck Wendig before but I’m glad I can say I have now. His writing style throughout Blackbirds is so alive that you will not want to put it down. It’s dark, edgy, brutal and very quick-witted, and at the centre of it all is Miriam. I can’t even tell you how much I loved Miriam. She is everything I want in a female heroine and more. To be perfectly honest, she’s probably the kind of person you would hate in real life; she’s rude, obnoxious and generally unlikeable. But through all of that you will see the real Miriam. The one who has been through a lifetime of pain and grief. Just imagine for a second that whenever you touch another person, you instantly see how they will die, knowing that you can do nothing to save them. Imagine if that person was your boyfriend, or your father, or your best friend. How could you even begin to prepare for something like that? The answer is you can’t, you just have to see it through.

For the most part this isn’t a pleasant read; it’s violent, gory, gruesome and you will scrunch your nose up in disgust a lot. But there is also a ridiculous amount of fun to be had in reading this novel. There were countless times where I was laughing out loud, and consequentially reading parts out to colleagues and friends. There is often something about urban fantasy series that don’t pull me in enough to make me want to read more. But Blackbirds is definitely the exception, and I literally can’t wait to read the next instalment Mockingbird.

Blackbirds is available now, and a massive thank you goes to NetGalley and Angry Robot for sending me a copy for review.

Rating