The Blackbird Singularity

 

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In my last review, I touched a little bit on book covers and how they can influence my choice of reads. When I have the freedom to choose a book without paying for it, I’m more likely to step outside my comfort zone. I might choose a book based solely on a cool cover or title, as well as abandon my favourite genres in search of something different.

That’s how I came to choose The Blackbird Singularity as my next read on NetGalley.

Cool cover? Interesting title? Non-genre fiction? Yes to all of the above.

And it turned out well, as I ended up really enjoying it.

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Vince and Lyd are expecting a baby. Thus, Vince who is often fog-headed due to his medication, decides to stop his medication in order to be a better provider and a better partner and father.

This book’s account of stress-induced bi-polar disorder was incredibly well done. Every decision made by Vince seems entirely justifiable in his own head. Yes, he deliberately stops his lithium. Yes, this is clearly not a good idea. The decisions he makes as his disorder rears its head are strange at times, and inadvisable at best at others. He’s definitely an unreliable narrator of the best kind – he believes everything he sees is actually happening, and as the reader I couldn’t help but be drawn in.

Struggling with the loss of a child, lack of employment and creative fuel, and in-laws who think he’s completely useless, Vince certainly doesn’t have things easy. His relationship with Lyd was horribly strained, and I felt for them both. Trying to rebuild what they had seemed nigh on impossible, and they simply didn’t know how to communicate with each other.

The oddities of Vince’s mother and her new family, as well as the Serge and Gloria disaster were interesting, as was Jamal’s character. I thought it was telling that Vince seemed to have no problem identifying messed up lives and emotions in other people’s lives, but not in his own. I thought it really helped showcase how insidious bi-polar disorder can be.

Vince’s fixation on the blackbirds in his back garden was really compelling, and I continued reading to see if it would evolve into mania or change in some way. I thought the book being separated into trimesters was well-done, and I liked the excerpts of text at the beginning of each chapter.

As the book wound up to its (seemingly inevitable) end, I was on the edge of my seat.

I think Wilven did a great job of portraying mental illness without patronizing or romanticising, while still giving the reader a story they’ll want to finish. If you’re looking for a read that explores relationships, loss, and the attempt to get your life together while it seems to be falling apart, this is the book for you.

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