Where To Begin With The Novels Of Me, Chuck Wendig?

It is the time of the Non-Denominational Holiday-Neutral Joy-Shrub, and as such, we often engage in the Festivity of Capitalist Mirth-Sharing, where we buy Objects of Delight for the people we both love and tolerate.

And so it is the time of the year where I get tweets and emails from folks saying, HELLO, I WANT TO BUY YOUR BOOKS FOR [friend / loved one / cherished enemy with noble redemption arc / myowndamnself] SO PLEASE TELL ME WHERE TO BEGIN.

I want to help.

But it’s a hard question.

It’s a hard question because I have written, to my surprise, a lot of books. And, truly, they run the gamut across a variety of genres, and so it gets difficult to pinpoint precisely where to begin for Maximum Literary Pleasure (MLP).

So, I’m going to try to help, to give you some places to start.

Let us begin.

If you like vulgarity, horror, creepy killers, psychics, venomous snark, and birds, you might like:

BLACKBIRDS!

“Fast, ferocious, sharp as a switchblade, and fucking fantastic.” — Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters

“This gritty, full-throttle series is what urban fantasy is all about, with bitter humor rounding out lyrical writing. It’s easy to root for this mouthy, rude, insensitive, but innately good young woman, and her story hits the reader like a double shot of rotgut.” — Publishers Weekly

The official description:

Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But then she hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, and she sees in thirty days that Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and Miriam will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

My personal note:

Bonus: it’s not just one book, it’s six! Well, it will be six as of 2019 — four books are out, with the fifth (The Raptor & The Wren) landing in January, and Vultures in the January after that. Miriam is the series that brought me to the novel-writin’ gig, and she remains my favorite to write, because she is, as I described once in the books, “a garage full of cats on fire.” Also, technically this book is listed as urban fantasy, which isn’t wrong, but also, isn’t right? I like to think of it as “horror-crime,” or “supernatural thriller,” or maybe just “what the fuck, who knows.”

BLACKBIRDS: Print | eBook | Audio

If you like Michael Crichton, ants, technology, and Hawaii, you might like:

INVASIVE!

“Think Thomas Harris’ Will Graham and Clarice Starling rolled into one and pitched on the knife’s edge of a scenario that makes Jurassic Park look like a carnival ride.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fans of Michael Crichton will feel right at home.” —Publishers Weekly

The official description:

On an isolated island in the middle of the Pacific, a team of scientists is employed by a charismatic billionaire hoping to change the world through cutting-edge research.

In a small cabin on a remote lake in the middle of the Adirondacks, FBI futurist Hannah Stander confronts a barely recognizable human body—one skinned alive by thousands of genetically engineered ants.

Hannah’s investigation ultimately leads her to Kohole Atoll. Though the team there vehemently denies any connection to the body, the more Hannah studies the group, the more she suspects their work has sinister applications. And the more it looks like no one is getting off the island alive.

My personal note:

This is a thriller as much about dealing with the unthinkable future as it is a book about confronting anxiety — and ants, of course, serve as a metaphor for that anxiety. The future is a scary place, so Hannah Stander is here to help you survive.

INVASIVE: Print | eBook | Audio

If you like hackers, artificial intelligence, Person of Interest, body horror, Fringe, you might like:

ZER0ES!

“This taut thriller will reinforce your paranoia about big government, big data, and that big, nerdy barista who just seems to know too much.” — Wall Street Journal

“[A] high-octane blend of nervy characters, dark humor and bristling dialogue… smart, timely, electrifying.” — NPR 

“With complex characters and feverishly paced action, ZEROES is a sci-fi thriller that won’t stop blowing your mind until the last page. … It left me rooting for the hackers!” — Daniel H. Wilson, bestselling author of Robopocalypse

The official description:

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab Spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed–and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Filesand the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

My personal note:

This book was a great deal of fun to write — different for me in that it took a lot of research, what with all the hacker business and the artificial intelligence and mumble-mumble government stuff. It was my first proper thriller, with car chases and conspiracies and what-not. Though I also had the challenge of making hacking both a) not dumbed-down yet b) compelling on the page. The goal initially was just to take the BLACK HOODIE MISANTHROPE HACKER stereotype and blow it out of the water five different ways — but from that seed, a bigger, sprawlier, stranger thriller grew. Note: this book is set in the same universe as Invasive, and takes place before that book. Neither book is a sequel to the other, though, and though there is crossover with a few characters, you needn’t read one to understand the other.

ZER0ES: Print | eBook | Audio

If you like punching Nazis, teen girls with shotguns, dogs, and small-town vigilanteism, you might like:

ATLANTA BURNS!

“Wendig breaks down boundaries and challenges his readers, and that’s part of what is so addicting about his books. Atlanta Burns is a no holds barred train ride through Hell and Wendig is an incredibly talented engineer.” — Sarah Chorn, Bookworm Blues

“Give Nancy Drew a shotgun and a kick-butt attitude and you get Atlanta Burns.” — Joelle Charbonneau, author of The Testing Trilogy

The official description:

You don’t mess with Atlanta Burns.

Everyone knows that. And that’s kinda how she likes it—until the day Atlanta is drawn into a battle against two groups of bullies and saves a pair of new, unexpected friends. But actions have consequences, and when another teen turns up dead—by an apparent suicide—Atlanta knows foul play is involved. And worse: she knows it’s her fault. You go poking rattlesnakes, maybe you get bit.

Afraid of stirring up the snakes further by investigating, Atlanta turns her focus to the killing of a neighborhood dog. All paths lead to a rural dogfighting ring, and once more Atlanta finds herself face-to-face with bullies of the worst sort. Atlanta cannot abide letting bad men do awful things to those who don’t deserve it. So she sets out to unleash her own brand of teenage justice.

Will Atlanta triumph? Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?

My personal note: 

Awooga, awooga, trigger warning galore — this book contains some nasty business, okay? It stares down the barrel of dog-fighting, of sexual assault, of small town Nazis. It is not a pleasant read and you should be warned. Also note, this was originally written as two books, a novella called Atlanta Burns and a novel called Bait Dog, but they were re-written and combined for this singular novel edition. (Also note: the eBook as of today is $0.99, as is the book’s sequel, The Hunt.)

ATLANTA BURNS: Print | eBook | Audio

If you like Star Wars, John Steinbeck, class warfare, evil corn, hobos, and tales of adventure, you might like:

UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY!

“Wendig brilliantly tackles the big stuff — class, economics, identity, love, and social change — in a fast-paced tale that never once loses its grip on pure storytelling excitement. Well-played, Wendig. Well-played.” —Libba Bray, author of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine, and The Diviners

“This strong first installment rises above the usual dystopian fare thanks to Wendig’s knack for disturbing imagery and scorching prose.” — Publishers Weekly

“Wendig convincingly illustrates the kind of culture and environment that might be the result of today’s agricultural practices and genetically modified industrial crops. The dystopia that arises from this projection is believable and chilling, but it never overpowers the stories of the characters that live in this world.” — School Library Journal

The official description:

Fear the Corn!

Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow—and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it. As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie—his first mate and the love of his life—forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry—angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it. When Cael and his crew discover a secret, illegal garden, he knows it’s time to make his own luck…even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.

My personal note:

So, ha ha, funny story, once upon a time I made up a fake genre here at the blog and I called it “cornpunk,” and I was just kidding around except then, as I described this fake genre, I started to totally get into it? And then that combined with my desire to write a Star Warsian tale (based on the assumption I would never ever be allowed to write real Star Wars) led to the first in this completed trilogy. (The second two are Blightborn and The Harvest. All three are $0.99 right now in eBook.)

UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY: Print | eBook | Audio

If you like Star Wars, you might like:

well, uh

STAR WARS?

I mean, real-talk, I wrote the AFTERMATH trilogy, so.

You probably don’t even need me to tell you about them.

But, LAST JEDI is coming out sooooo — *deep breath* — the trilogy starts to bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and features a rag-tag group of anti-heroes who come together under duress to hunt down Imperial war criminals, and inadvertently discover Emperor Palpatine’s last and most sinister plot, meant to take place after his death. *makes lightsaber sounds with mouth*

STAR WARS AFTERMATH: Print | eBook | Audio

12 comments

  • Goodreads lists Invasive as “Zeroes #2,” like they’re part of a series, but it doesn’t seem that way based on the description. (I’m half-way through the Zeroes audiobook) Are they connected? If this is getting into spoiler territory feel free to just laugh like a maniacal genius creepily stroking a siamese cat.

    • Yeah, that’s unfortunate, and I wish it didn’t do that. I think Amazon has done that too at times. They are connected, but not in a story way — just a few characters popping across the narratives. They’re set in the same universe, and INVASIVE is set after ZER0ES, but they do not connect directly, and all connections are purely passive and fun, not necessary and plot-based.

  • I’ll write a little reco for The Blue Blazes.

    If you like: neo-fantasy-noir detective kickin’ the crap out of demons, with a fiesty wayward daughter, dangerous mob bosses and freaky monsters.

    My favorite book of yours.

  • Hey, Chuck. Just a very genuine quick high five to you on your mastery of social media. I’ve never read a single book of yours, but follow you on Twitter and think you’re the shit. Funny, witty and personable. A good dude. Because of that, I find myself buying your books this holiday season. Was going to reach out to you and ask what I should purchase for my sister (I always buy a horror book or two for her for Christmas), but then found this incredibly handy page where you answer that very question for me (I settled on INVASIVE and BLACKBIRDS btw). Unfortunately, being a writer isn’t just about getting inspired and locking yourself in your room and forcing brilliant thoughts and words out. It’s also about selling – your ideas, you as a writer and your books. And you’re really good at it by just being present and available. Anyway, just wanted you to know. So… High five. Fist bump. Head nod of approval. I hope writers who are just starting out discover you and see how you manage this very important part of the business. Happy holidays.

  • I have Blackbirds (+ the other books in the series) as my staff rec at my local bookstore and you bet it’s hard to pin it down to one genre when trying to explain it to a customer! But it is such a great series – looking forward to the last 2 books!

    Also, I still need to read Atlanta Burns because dogs and punching Nazis are two of my favorite things.

  • This is all very well but, WHERE DO I GET THESE DAMNED BOOKS IN SPAIN?

    Amazon.es doesn’t have shit (hardback of Mockingbird, for example, preorder for March or something stupid like that) and amazon.com (where I don’t have prime ‘cos i have that in Spain) wants $18 (aprox.) for Mockingbird and $25 for P&P. Pass.

    Where do I go to buy them in spain? I don’t want translations.

    The EASY way to get your books is to put “wendig mockingbird epub torrent” into thepiratebay.bid and see what comes up but this is not done (and anyway, I still prefer books to ebooks). However, you make it so hard to get legit. versions that it is very tempting.

    Where do I go to buy them in spain?

    Dave

    • David,

      *I* don’t make them hard to get legitimately. I’m not stealing my own books off Spain’s bookshelves. Books releasing in foreign countries is a tricky proposition, whether you’re talking translations or original-language, and it’s tricky because of a lot of potential reasons: who holds the rights in that territory, VAT, other taxes, other import/export issues, and so forth. I control *literally none of that,* so, make your peace on that subject, please.

      You can often buy books outside your own regional Amazon — like, I can get books shipped from Amazon UK if I want, I believe. Also, if you have any local bookstores, call to see if they can order the books.

      — c.

      • I know, but it’s still bloody annoying that, after all the crying about piracy and so on, publishers (and music companies and hollywood and the rest) still don’t bother about making it easier to buy the stuff than pirate it.
        Piracy has (by the latest accounts I have read) reduced enormously because it is easier to watch Jessica Jones et al on netflix for 15€ a month than it is to download dodgy AVIs or MKVs which may or may not work on your out of date hardware. This just makes it more frustrating when you try and buy something as simple as a book (which is in print) and nobody is willing to sell you a copy at a reasonable price. Amazon.es has one copy of the MMP of Mockingbird offered at 799€ (I liked Blackbird, but not *that* much, i’m afraid) the hardback on presales (why? when it came out in July) and that’s it. Not even a Kindle version.

        It may not be your fault that I can’t buy your book for a reasonable price but you’re the one who suffers most (and I know that that is not very much at all). I am more likely to go and find another author whose books I *can* buy and just forget about Miriam Black and if too many people do that, how will you pay for the bandwidth to keep this blog open so we can all come and complain.

        David

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