Miriam Black has a talent (or curse) of being able to tell when and how a person will die, simply by making contact with that other person. She has used this gift to try to alter a person’s destiny, and while the ‘how’ might change, the when doesn’t seem to. Now, Miriam heads off to Florida at the behest of a wealthy, mysterious person who wants to know how and when he will die. But this trip could be a ruse.
That’s the basic plot, but of course there’s so much more to it.
If you’ve read many of my previous reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I often comment on the likeability of a character. If the reader doesn’t ‘like’ your main character, what motivation does the reader have to invest in the story? Character, in a novel, is probably 80% of the book. I recall hearing someone (I think it was Theodore Sturgeon, quoting someone else) say, “Shorts stories are about things people do. Novels are about people who do things.”
I like Miriam Black.
I don’t know why…she has everything going against her it seems. She abrasive, she’s rude, she’s foul-mouthed, she’s a killer, she loathes herself, and respects no one. Yet somehow, through the magic of the author’s writing, Miriam is a character we are able to rally behind. Despite all the strikes against her, I liked her. I wanted her to succeed.
Although I came to realize somewhat early on in the book that this is a third book in a series, it doesn’t detract from enjoy the book itself. While I am curious as to Miriam’s history and will very likely go back to read the previous two novels, this book does seem to stand alone … it might be nice to know some history on Miriam Black, but it doesn’t appear to be a requirement to reading this book.
Author Chuck Wendig keeps the pace moving very well and it does seem as though there is non-stop action. It helps that Wendig has woven the story quite well with snippets of her life from different moments in time that all seem to converge near the end. How appropriate that we have the story of someone who can see the future, told from bits of the past, present, and future.
There are moments when the book seems to go on for just a little too long and Miriam relies just a little too much on luck (causing a crash of an FBI-driven vehicle?). She rushes a little too blindly in to danger, knowing the danger, and she also too often pays the price for this foolhardiness. Perhaps that’s part of what we like about her, but at the same time, it strikes me as immature.
Which brings up a question … who is this book geared toward? Initially I wondered if it were to be considered a YA book, but some of the language is pretty fierce. Perhaps I’m just more old-fashioned than I care to admit, and I’m a little out of touch with the nature of YA books today? Would I let my kids read this (ages 14,16, and 18)? Yes.
Looking for a good book? This is strong writing, engaging characters, and fast-paced action.
* * * * * *
author: Chuck Wendig
series: Miriam Black
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 384 pages