Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Blue Blazes - Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig just recently released his new book, The Blue Blazes, and I will admit I'm interested. I don't normally find myself reading things like this, but I've been following Mr. Wendig for long enough that I finally decided to snatch up a book of his.

The Blue Blazes is the story of Mookie Pearl. He's a big guy with a lot going on. He's part of New York's criminal underworld. He fights the supernatural underworld beneath our world. Things go as usual (if fighting goblins and finding Blue can be considered usual) until his daughter shows up at his place after several years of silence. That's when everything changes, and everything starts falling to pieces.
Did I say everything starts falling to pieces? Cause when I say it falls to pieces, it fucking falls to pieces. Mookie's life is already far from normal. That's for sure. But what sense of normalcy does exist is shattered through the events of the novel. He works for the Organization. They keep all the other gangs (and sometimes the beasties from the Great Below) in check. The gather and launder Cerulean (or Blue, or peacock powder, or... well, you get the  idea); an intense drug that when rubbed on the temples not only makes you tougher and more durable, but allows you to see the denizens of the Deep Downstairs for what they really are. For they hide among us. And they have big plans.

The problems all start when The Boss gets sick. Terminal cancer. He's gotta pass on the Organization to somebody. But his grandson, who's in line to receive the title, isn't exactly prepared to run everything. Enter Candlefly, the strange man who suddenly appears to help The Boss in his time of need (and who Mookie finds extremely suspicious). After Mookie gets sent off by The Boss's grandson to search for what may as well be a legend, things start to change. And it's not long before the Organization that Mook knows becomes very, very different. Something has changed.

This novel is an adrenaline laced, breathless adventure. Mr. Wendig piles on the action; shit just keeps happening throughout the entire story. Every big reveal is replaced by two new mysteries. Every character introduction leads to more and more subplots, every one of which conglomerates beautifully in the end. The intricate details of Mr. Wendig's world within our world are made simple and flow effortlessly into the plot, becoming more and more involved as it goes.

The characters in this novel are beyond spectacular. Mookie is a big guy. Not so smart. But tough, and he knows what he's doing and he does it well. Nora (Mookie's daughter) is tough too. Not so big, but smart. She's got attitude, like her mom. Werth (He's above Mook; takes care of him) is a half-and-half. Only part human. Indecisive. Never sure what side to pick. Skelly is the leader of the Get-Em-Girls. Tough. Handles herself. And her girls. And Mookie here and there. Burnsy is dead. Mookie killed him. He drives a hard bargain. Candlefly is a businessman. A very cunning, slippery businessman. Uses what he needs and trashes the rest. Sorago is a Snakeface. Slithering little bastard is an assassin. Damn good at what he does.

Each and every one of these characters gets a perspective in the story. You see through all of their heads (there are more, by the way). They are all unique and grab ahold of different parts of you until they all cohesively drag you into the story and the setting. Suddenly you find yourself among them all in the brutal city of New York and the underworld beneath it. The characters are gripping all the way to the end, even after things settle. (If you want to call it settling.) You can't help but feel for all of them (even if that feeling is disgust or disdain). They're all there and they're all in your face. The whole story.

You could imagine how difficult this could be to keep track of. However, Mr. Wendig's writing is amazing in its simplicity; everything gets across without complicated wording and difficult explanations. Each character has their own voice, and when you see through their eyes you hear it. Mr. Wendig effortlessly brings together the chaotic (but somehow still sensible) plot, amazing and unique characters, a setting bred from fantasy and reality, and fantastic (also sometimes humorous) writing. (Not only that, but if you follow Mr. Wendig as an internet personality then you will find bits and pieces of that personality here as well.)

In fact, the cursing used in the writing (this must be noted; not many authors curse this much) is actually impressive. I've always noted Mr. Wendig for cursing creatively. I like the way he curses. And in The Blue Blazes, he holds true to that (which is not surprising). The cursing is used so creatively, humorously, and effectively that it becomes integral to the story itself. Honestly, it's one of my favorite parts of Wendig's writing style. Real people cuss. These kinds of people would cuss even more. And by god, do they.

All in all, this book is great. I already followed Mr. Wendig, but The Blue Blazes has officially shown me why I (and every other damn person that wants to write anything) should be listening to his writing advice. He knows what he's doing. And I hope that he keeps doing it. Because I will keep reading it. Because Chuck Wendig, people, is a writing genius. Evidence, you say? The Blue Blazes.