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Book Review: The Blue Blazes

You know how I said I was going to try to read a book every month for the next year?

Yeah, well, I’m not doing so great with that. Turns out, being pregnant takes a lot out of you and it’s hard to read when you’re sleeping instead. It’s also hard to read when you’re so busy with work that you’re working way more hours than you’d expected–and it was especially hard when I was still writing a blog a day. Anyway, I’m cutting myself a lot of slack because really, there’s no use in beating myself up over it.

I have been reading a lot more than I had been, though, which is awesome, and the most recent book I finished was The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig.

That’s right, folks. You’re getting a book review.

The Blue Blazes
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How’s that for a book review layout, eh?

I talked a bit about The Blue Blazes a while ago in an article I’m way too lazy to track down and link to (okay, fine, I did it. You can read it here). That article mostly talks about the writing, and specifically the tense, the novel is written in. I’ve talked a bit about how I’m not a big fan of present tense novels, but The Blue Blazes is written in present tense, and it does a damn good job of it. It’s so good, in fact, that I hadn’t noticed it was written in first person until several chapters in. That was a surprise, for sure.

Anyway, let’s get back to the book:

The Blue Blazes is rich in vibrant imagery, to the point where you practically taste, smell, and hear what’s going on around the characters. The best part about the imagery is that it is tied to the characters seeing and experiencing the things around them. In other words, it’s gritty. Wendig uses even the way the things are described to add to the characterization of the people involved in the scene, which is absolutely fantastic and it gives you the sense that he really put a lot of individual thought into the descriptions he used. In other words, there are no overused cliches here.

The plot is fast-paced and you move quickly through Mookie Pearl’s complicated life, between the Organization to which he’s loyal, the daughter with whom he has a love-hate relationship, and the Underworld hiding beneath New York City. It’s really hard to find great urban fantasy that isn’t steeped in cheesy romance, but Wendig really nails it here. It’s also dark and kind of gruesome (my favorite character is a reanimated burn victim), so there’s that.

There are three reasons it only got a four out of five stars. One, I’m a firm believer that something needs to be near-to-perfect in order to get a five star rating in anything, so unless I can find absolutely nothing wrong with a book (which never happens), I rarely give out five stars. The two, more relevant things are that sometimes the characters were hard to keep track of and that toward the end of the book, I felt like Mookie’s characterization was beginning to slip.

The thing about the characters being hard to keep track of could have totally been my fault. It’s taken me a few months to get through this book, so it’s entirely possible I just missed or forgot details. Mookie’s characterization change was really not that big of a deal. Not to ruin things for you, but the gist of it is that Mookie is described as a big, burly, brick-like character. He’s smart enough to figure shit out, but he doesn’t talk much, and when he does talk, he doesn’t seem to know the right things to say. There’s one scene toward the end of the book where Mookie gets awfully close to delivering a monologue that feels a bit too put-together for me to believe he possibly could have come up with it on the spot. When I have a character who is frequently described as a “sack of meat,” I don’t expect a lot of eloquence.

Anyway, that’s it! I highly recommend you pick up The Blue Blazes if you like urban fantasy and crime novels. I’ll definitely be looking for the second book of the series (titled The Hellsblood Bride here soon.

Cheers,
–MC

Categories: Book Reviews

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