Mockingbird – Chuck Wendig

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Miriam Black knows how you are going to die. In order to see how you kick the bucket, all she needs to do is make physical contact. A simple handshake often gets the job done, but throughout the book Miriam finds more interesting ways to get the deed done.

In “Mockingbird”, Miriam plans to use her power to stop a ritualistic serial killer who has been targeting female students at an all-girl reform school. Compared to its predecessor, “Blackbirds”, the villains in “Mockingbird” seem to be more fully developed and slightly more terrifying. They bring an element of horror to the book that was missing in “Blackbirds”.

It is hard to classify this book into one specific genre. It definitely has some noir elements, but it could also be considered a thriller with horror elements and some urban fantasy thrown in for good measure.

But whatever the genre, it is not for the weak of stomach. There are a lot of violent scenes in this book-Wendig vividly describes the deaths of the serial killer’s victims as they are raped, tortured, beheaded, and then have their tongues cut out of their bodies. If you have read “Blackbirds,” then you know Miriam likes to swear. There are f-bombs on every page, and the word is always used more than once. While I myself do not mind the “adult” language, some readers may find it offensive.

The interludes spread throughout the novel tend to be distracting. Most of the book is written through Miriam’s point of view, but some of these interludes are written through the viewpoint of other characters. It ends up being a bit off-putting, as it messes with the overall flow of the novel. The interludes also provide glimpses into Miriam’s past. While interesting, I feel like the interludes would have worked better if they had been spaced evenly throughout the novel, rather than being randomly placed.

The main issue I had with this book was the editing. The author, Chuck Wendig, either needs to better review his drafts before submitting them to his publisher or fire his current editor. There were repeating paragraphs, unnecessary punctuation, and even a few revision spots that were not deleted. These editing errors ended up being very confusing (especially the repeating paragraphs and sentences). Whenever I saw them, I couldn’t help but pause and try to make sense of what I just read. As a writer, the last thing you want is for your readers to pause and puzzle over what you are trying to say.

Unlike the first book in the series, “Mockingbird” features chapter titles. I usually do not mind chapter titles, even in adult books, but the ones in this book often came off as too campy or cheesy, such as ‘The Bad Girls Club’ and ‘Lords Of Google, Hear My Plaintive Cries.’

Despite the many editing mistakes and distracting elements of “Mockingbird”, it is still a pretty entertaining book to read. I finished the book in about two days. The only times I put it down were when I found extreme editing errors I couldn’t stand to look at. Perhaps the best part about “Mockingbird” is that readers do not need to pick up a copy of “Blackbirds” to understand what is going on. Reading the first book would help new readers understand the character a bit better, but it’s not essential to the story.