I did it! I finally read the damn thing! Everyone should be very proud of me.
It’s an interesting departure for me, given that my only experience before this with Wendig’s writing (that isn’t a tweet or blog post) was the Heartland trilogy. And Miriam Black and her world aren’t even remotely close to that kind of world.
And…I don’t know. Sometimes it worked, and other times it didn’t. I’m a little torn.
Miriam Black has one of the more fascinating powers I’ve seen in fiction–and I’ve seen a few characters with it–and hates it about as much as these characters usually do: she can see how people die when she touches them skin to skin. Not a great way to make friends or keep optimistic about life. The best part? No matter what she does, there’s no way to stop what’s going to come. Every time she’s tried, it’s just made it all worse.
So when she meets Louis Darling and suddenly she sees that he’s going to die…and he says her name just before he does, it throws everything into a new perspective. He’s going to die because he met her.
If there was ever one to fight against, it’s this one.
I’ve seen other reviews critique how rather brash Miriam comes across, and that it’s a poor writing of a girl from a male author. I beg to differ. I’ve known plenty of young women who were just like Miriam: just as vulgar, telling just as many classic-male-jokes, everything in the book. Usually they came from less than stellar backgrounds, much like Miriam. So Miriam herself never posed a problem for me, at least in a belief standpoint. She’s an anti-hero, and I like them.
The trouble is that there’s only one other likable character in the book, and it’s the one Miriam spends the most time trying to avoid. The team of assassins are repugnant (as they should be) and obnoxious. I wanted to genuinely throw Ashley’s smug face off a cliff and hope I could see him shatter into pieces on the rocks below. We don’t have anyone else to hold onto, to cheer for–and Miriam certainly isn’t going to encourage the reader to cheer for her. So we have Louis, who is sweet and destined to die. It’s hard to connect with the book that way. Granted, I connected well enough with Miriam, but I think that’s on a whole level of self-esteem issues and whatnot that we share.
I don’t know when in Wendig’s writing career he wrote this, but it feels like it should be an earlier work. It doesn’t show the strength I saw in Heartland; it doesn’t give me the same depth of world. Now, that being said, I do still own the next two books in the series, and I’m more than willing to read them and see where we go, and hope that I get a little more emotionally invested as time goes on. I really want to, and it was disappointing to feel so “meh” about all of this.
But that’s how life goes, yeah? This is really a solid 3.5, and alas, I can’t justify rounding it up this time. 😦 Sorry, Chuck.
Rating: *** (Worth a Look)