If you’re looking for a naked Finnick Odair…

… you’ve got the wrong book. (There, that should garner me a couple bazillion hits, right?) Today I’m reviewing Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig – not that other book with “mocking” in its title and a picture of a bird on its cover. And even despite the absence of naked Finnick Odair, this book will rock your socks off.

I wish the picture above was bigger, because yet again, Joey HiFi, the brilliant artist responsible for this and the previous book’s cover, has created something that makes me want to fist-pump for hours on end. And I never fist-pump. Ever. Anyway, you’ll just have to buy it for yourself and revel in the glory of this awesome cover art.

Synopsisize me!

Miriam Black is back and as miserable, wise-cracking, mean and bad-ass as ever. She’s also still rocking that I-can-see-how-you’re-gonna-die psychic ability, but she’s trying to live with it instead of by it. No more hustling the imminently deceased. She’s got a little place with Louis and is working as a grocery store, and keeps the visions in check with a pair of gloves. As long as she doesn’t touch anyone, the details of demises don’t trouble her. Miriam’s not quite content in this new life, but determined to ride it out… until one day, all hell breaks loose, and she finds herself back on the road, chasing the unsettling but undeniable high of those morbid visions. But then Miriam sees something she can’t allow to happen, and she has to race against the clock to once again try and change what fate has already ordained.

Good God, Wendig. I think I want to crack open your head and live there.

This book may be even better than its predecessor (Blackbirds, reviewed below). The plot is more tightly constructed, and the pace benefits greatly. The stakes were higher, which led to even more tension and suspense, and horrible puffy red eyes because I stayed up way too late reading the damn book that just would let me close it already and go to sleep. Most of the backstory, always unwieldy, had already been dealt with in book one, so there was more time to explore the nuances of Miriam’s ability and its potential ramifications. Wendig’s writing is delightfully unique. He has a strong voice, as I noted in my previous review, and manages to balance dark and often (deliciously) profane humour with some genuine “chills and thrills.”

One great scene in particular stands out: Louis being suddenly surrounded by an army of birds, blackbirds, starlings, grackles (whatever that is), and crows, one of whom proceeds (spoiler spoiler spoiler) to speak to him in Miriam’s voice. Damn. It was like the Birds/Game of Thrones mash-up of my nerdiest dreams.

The characters are just as delightful as they were in Blackbirds. Miriam becomes even more complex as she tries, yet again, to change the fate she saw in her visions. She’s an unlikely hero, but a hero she is, and all the more interesting because she’s got a streak of villain in her, too. And Louis, my beloved Louis, is a perfect foil for her, and also my new book-husband. There are some new characters introduced, including a kind of junior Miriam named Lauren – Wren for short (ha ha – birds). I felt the villain in the first book was more fascinating, but the assortment of baddies in Mockingbird are definitely creepy and get the job done.

All in all, this book is hella good. I won’t fall into raptures like I did for Blackbirds, though it’s dificult restraining myself, people. Cuz everything I said last time? MULTIPLY IT BY  10 TO THE POWER OF HELL YEAH. Trust me. Read these books. They are the antidote to that book with the number and the colour in its title (and that reference, even as oblique as it was, now makes me shudder and crave a brain bleaching).

Best line(s): It’s a fool’s errand trying to pick out a favourite line – there’s too damn many – but here’s one I loved. “Louis, I think I telepathically commanded a bird to do my bidding.” (p. 360).

Rating: Five out of five naked Finnick Odairs. (What? All’s fair in love and blogging. READ ME, INTERNET. LOVE ME.)

Sequel alert: The author bio informs us that the next book will be Cormorant, and the day I hold it in my greedy hands cannot come soon enough. Also, huzzah for keeping the bird theme going. I guess I can’t help loving these books… it’s fate. (Har har, geddit? Cuz my name’s ROBYN. Lol.)

And now, Book Cat would like to contribute his thoughts, but begs that you refrain from any harsh sartorial critiques, as the smoking jacket with the Elvis collar was purely my idea.

I’d rather catch a bird and then play with it until it has a heart attack from my chillingly soulless yet endearingly innocent feline instinct for torture and bloodthirstiness, but then, I am a cat. If you must read a bird, by all means, make it Mockingbird.

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