Book Reviews

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

So on December 30th I was perusing Twitter, like one does when one is snowed in, and found out that Chuck Wendig’s book Blackbirds was being offered for FREE! on his website TerribleMinds. My mind was blown to say the least.

Wendig was using this as an opportunity to promote his newest book in the Miriam Black series: The Cormorant (that link goes to the cover reveal post, the cover is B-E-A-UTIFUL). You can buy the book here as well as other works by Wendig.

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Traditionally writers have avoided giving away their books for free because it simply wasn’t economical. The books are expensive to make and publishers want to see a return on their investment. But in the Age of Technology authors (especially self-published ones) can negotiate deals where there books are free for a limited time to drum up business. New writers have relied on word of mouth but that is amplified a thousand fold when a writer starts to include the Internet. Not to mention the books are usually in ebook format so all I had to do was click a link on my iPad and download it to the kindle app. Super easy!

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This article on the Huffington Post talks about this new phenomenon and why it works so well for some authors: “Online audiences are entirely willing to pay for content. Content creators simply must prove themselves first. Those who are willing to be generous themselves will be met by generosity in return.” There have been several musical artists who have tried this technique (like Amanda Palmer) with amazing results.

Personally I found this technique of giving away the book to be ingenious because now I’m gnawing over my bank account trying to negotiate with the numbers so I can get the next two books. Being a college student doesn’t allow for either a lot of free reading time or a lot of monies to spend on books. So getting the book for free over my winter break was pretty awesome to begin with.

Anyways, I downloaded the book onto my iPad on the 30th of December.

I simply couldn’t put it down and devoured the entire thing in one sitting.

It was absolutely incredible.

I’ve been following Wendig on Twitter  and on his blog for some time now (he is hilarious but not necessarily safe for work just as a warning) and have been drooling over his writing advice and books. But as I usually do I kept putting off actually buying anything because bills were due and I have a million excuses but seriously none of them are really good enough.

Blackbirds was the most interesting book I’ve read in such a long time. Everything about this book is different and I loved all those differences. I don’t want to give too much about the plot away though because it is such a great and suspenseful read, so I’ll just give you my overall impression.

For starters, we have Miriam who is absolutely the most insane main character I’ve ever seen. To be honest I really can’t recall the last time I read a book with a such a strong main character, let alone a female one. Like most people I was really surprised at how tenacious and angry she was but I think that this is probably something that really drew me to Miriam’s character overall. She is flawed but knows it and really tries to not care about it.

The book’s plot is like I would imagine white water rafting to be. Very terrifying and fast but at the end you look back smiling like a madman and you’re already planning another trip. The plot took hold of me from the first page and never let go until the final word. While the darkness and grittiness of the story might have not been handled well in the hands of a lesser author Wendig weaves the elements of horror, loss, fate, and love together into a tale of incredible, and strange, imagery.

Overall a fantastic piece of fiction and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels: Mockingbird and The Cormorant. Take a look at their cover art below, beautiful!

UPDATE: I actually have bought the next two books in the Miriam Black series because of being able to read Blackbirds for free. So yes fellow writers, this does work as a strategy!

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