Book Review: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Book: Blackbird by Michael Fiegel

Published November 2017 by Skyhorse|312 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: Adult Thriller

A dark, biting literary debut for fans of Caroline Kepnes following the unlikely bond between two sociopaths―and the destruction left in their wake.

“When I was eight years old, I was abducted from a fast food restaurant by a man who took me, in all likelihood, because of a small splotch of mayonnaise on his hamburger. And so I believe in neither free will nor predetermination. I believe in condiments.”

A cold-blooded killer-for-hire, Edison North drifts across America from city to city, crime scene to crime scene, leaving behind a world in flames. But during a random bloodbath at a fast food restaurant, Edison meets Christian, a young girl who mirrors his own vacant stare and stink of “other.” Though it’s been a long time since he felt anything resembling a human connection, something about this desperately lonely child calls to him. Edison feels certain she deserves better. And while he is not convinced that he can give her that, he can make her stronger. So begin the chronicles of Edison North―and his protégé.

As Edison begins Christian’s strange apprenticeship, Christian looks back upon her fractured upbringing and the training that made her into the killer she’s become. What follows is a brilliant―and ultimately tender―character study of two outsiders whose improbably forged bond unleashes a new facet of the human experience between them―and a jagged slash of violence on the world around them.

I thought Blackbird was just okay.  I’ve had it for a while, and while it isn’t typically the sort of book I’d pick up, it was part of the PageHabit horror box (back when I was getting it before I ended up cancelling it).

Here’s the thing.  I don’t know that I would classify this book as horror.  It’s more of a thriller, and I tend to associate horror with authors like Stephen King or movies like The Exorcist and Halloween.  Not a novel about an assassin who takes an 8 year old as his apprentice after kidnapping her from a fast food place.

We get sections narrated by both Christian and Edison.  Christian’s chapters are in a slightly different font than Edisons, and there’s obviously a different voice, but it would randomly switch between the two, so it always took a while to get into the two very different perspectives.

It’s not an easy read, and I found that I could only read a little bit at a time before I had to put it down and read something else.  I liked it at the beginning, but by the end, I kind of lost interest in what was happening.  I also thought things were more muddled by the end, though this is the sort of book you need to pay close attention to, and I wasn’t really doing that.  It’s not my cup of tea, and it felt like things were painfully slow.

It also felt like I was getting snippets of their lives, and I think that’s because of the time jumps.  Which were fine, of course, and the story was pretty linear.  I just felt like I was getting little snippets, and even with the time jumps, I still felt like things moved slow.

I did get a conspiracy theory vibe from the book, which was interesting.  Edison has a handler, and people are watching both him and Christian (xtian as he calls her) and he travels around doing murder for hire by some shadow organization.  If that’s not some sort of conspiracy right there, I don’t know what is.

I also liked that Fiegel had no problem showing how terrible Edison was, and it is a pretty straightforward book.  You see his methods and beliefs, and yet it didn’t seem like he was intentionally trying to shock or scare the reader.  It was also more literary than I expected.  In the literary fiction sense.

I’m not sure what else to say about Blackbird.  It seems like a book a lot of people liked, but it wasn’t for me.

2 stars.  Blackbird was okay, and while I initially liked it, by the end I was bored.  I can see why people like it.

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