Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mockingbird Sings an Original Song

Chuck Wendig
Angry Robot Books
6 Sep 2012
384pp B-format paperback
£7.99 UK

28 Aug 2012
mass-market paperback
$7.99 US $8.99 CAN

28 Aug 2012

Class? Let me have your attention please, class.  We're going to start today's session with a quiz.  The topic is Chuck Wendig's forthcoming novel, Mockingbird.  This will be multiple choice.  Mockingbird is a) relentless, b) creepy, c) compelling, d) surprising, e) likely to keep you up too late finishing it, f) all of the above.

No looking on your neighbor's paper.  Please pass them to the aisle when you're done.

Do I have all the papers?  Good.  The answer, of course, is f.

If you read Blackbird (reviewed here), then you know the basic premise.  Miriam Black has the ability to know the time and circumstances of a person's death just by touching them. Wendig made the most of that premise in the first novel of the series, in which Miriam touches a man and learns that she will be present at his murder a month in the future.

When I had an opportunity to grab an eARC of the sequel, I jumped at it.  Mockingbird opens about a year later.  Miriam touches a woman in the grocery store and sees the woman will be gunned down in about five minutes.  So she acts to save the woman and launches a series of events that will totally change her world.

And that's a rough paraphrase of the blurb Angry Robot has posted.  I'm loath to add too much to it, even though it really doesn't tell you much.  I'll say this.  Miriam finds herself in a situation in which she has to prevent a series of killings that are a few years in the future.  Beyond that, I don't want to give too many details away.  Spoilers, ya know.

The story didn't go where I expected it to.  I was surprised several times.  Wendig has come up with a killer that is at least as scary as Hannibal Lector.  There were scenes that were downright flawless in their creepiness.  I doubt I'll ever look at crows the same way again.  We learn more about Miriam, and it's kinda spooky, some of the stuff we learn.  Of course, Wendig only gives us so much.  He leaves plenty of questions and implications hanging, making us want more.

He also does a great job of balancing how many times Miriam uses her talents in the book.  Too little, and she's not really special; too much, and it becomes blase.  Wendig has her use it just enough, and every time it heightens the suspense or gives us some important piece of information or moves the plot along.

The prose is lean and compelling.  I've stayed up way too late tonight finishing the book and writing this review.  It's that good.

The publication date here in the US is still about six weeks away, which should give you plenty of time to put the book in your reading schedule and to read Blackbird if you haven't yet.  (Points deducted if you haven't.)  Angry Robot hasn't posted an excerpt yet, or I would provide one.  I'll just leave you with your assignment, class, which is to read this book.  It's going to be one that people are talking about, and I expect to see at least one volume from this series on the award ballots next year.


  1. Hi Keith - Sample chapters from Mockingbird will be posted in the next couple of weeks, all being well!

    Angry Robot Darren

    1. I'll keep my eye out for them and add them to the review when they're available.

  2. I've heard good things about him. Seems like maybe I've read a short story. Not sure.