Thursday, July 6, 2017

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

3.5 Stars

“This is a matter of national security. Not a love story.” 

If you follow me and my (pretty much) daily ramblings, you might have noticed a couple of things. First, I’ve been gone for a bit. I thought I was taking a couple of days off to acquire a lethal dose of skin cancer via way of the local baseball fields, but ended up with nearly a week free of work thanks to a floating holiday that was given to us pee-ons in addition to the 4th of July. ‘MURICA!!!!

Second, you may have been witness to a nearly historic event of me becoming the type of person who annoys me most. Wait, who am I kidding? All people annoy me most. Anyway, I participated in behavior Ms. Manners would frown upon by touting my own shit as worthy of a re-read and giving it a bump. Which I promise to refrain from in the future, but after reading Black Mad Wheel (that I continue to call “Mad Black Wheel”), I realized that Bird Box was kind of the shizzle for rizzle for me and deserved a better rating. Not only because I thought it was really good, but because this one wasn’t as good and I couldn’t allow myself to give them the same amount of Starzzzzzzzzz. 

I requested Black Mad Wheel (and was promptly denied, natch) because Bird Box was such a page turner for me. It’s pretty much a miracle when I recognize a new-to-me author’s name enough to know I want their newest release, but want it I did – and without even reading anything about it. But when I got it from the library I had to put it on the backburner once I discovered it was about a group of bandmates who get sent into the desert to track down a mysterious sound . . . . 

Yes. I have the mentality of a 12 year old boy. 

Once I finally got over my case of the giggles, I was able to give this one a go. Much like Bird Box, not much can be said without ruining the whole thing. As stated above, it’s about a group of men who are hired by the military to go track down a noise in Africa. Then it does the wibbly wobbly with the timey wimey and we discover one of the men is now in Iowa and . . . . . 

“What I’m telling you is that you didn’t just break your wrists and elbows. You broke almost everything.” 

It then flips between the desert and the hospital in order to piece a story that is part suspense, part mystery, part paranormal, part conspiracy theory, part romance and part anti-war narrative. While not as “edge of your seat” as Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel was still quite the page turner and I am now an automatic sell when it comes to whatever Malerman releases next. And not that he’d ever even see what I have to say, let alone listen to it, but I would love if he would continue this “exploration of the senses” as he has done by writing stories about sight (or lack thereof, as it were) and now sound . . . . 

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