Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer and also happens to be one of my favorite bloggers. His writing posts are witty, profane, and right on target–his mighty beard truly holds many of the secrets of writing success. I reviewed a compilation of some his writing posts here. His most recent releases are The Cormorant (Miriam Black #3), The Kick-Ass Writer, The Blue Blazes, and Under the Empyrean Sky. Having enjoyed his blog so much, I decided to give his fiction a try, sampling his first two novels, Double Dead and Blackbirds.
Coburn, a self-centered sonofabitch of a vampire, wakes from a five-year dirt-nap to find that the zombie apocalypse has struck. This poses a distinct food-supply problem for the bloodsucker, as zombie fluids simply won’t cut it and sources of real human blood are scarce. That means that the predator has to become a shepherd of a herd of humans that can sustain him. Soon, he and his herd are heading west along the old Route 66, fighting their way through cannibals and juggalos toward the promise of a cure for the zombie virus–and Coburn’s ultimate redemption.
This novel is so chock-full of pulpy goodness, I’m not even sure where to begin. The premise is just aces and the writing is top-notch. Wendig maintains a breakneck pace throughout the novel, never letting the ball drop too long. Be aware–this one is not for the faint of heart. There is swearing and gore aplenty, as befits the subject matter. But there’s humor, drama, and an actual human heart at the center of the story. A scary road-trip novel and an excellent addition to both the zombie and vampire genres.
Miriam Black is an unusual girl. She travels from town to town, bad boy to bad boy, living a life full of danger and recklessness. She’s a smart ass and has a lot of issues. And, with a touch of her hand, she can tell you when and how you’ll die. She can’t change your fate, but can only bear witness. But when she meets trucker Louis Darling and learns that he’s going to die with her name on his lips, she starts to question her role as fate’s harbinger. And in order to stay alive and out of the sights of a ruthless criminal overlord, she’ll have to learn how to change the natural order of things.
Here Wendig really flexes his writing muscles. In Miriam, he’s created a wonderfully flawed, but redeemable, character. The pacing, as usual, is relentless and the dialogue crisp and natural. Further, Wendig plays with a lot of serious issues here–death, redemption, fate–and does so in an entertaining, but no less thoughtful, way. It’s a road-trip novel that’s several layers deep, succeeding in being literary without sacrificing its pulp roots. It’s simply a great read.