Bird Box – Josh Malerman
Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.
Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?
Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?
Review: I guess it’s unpopular opinion time. I didn’t hate this book, but I’m not as obsessed with it as everybody else seems to be.
Malorie learns she’s pregnant on the same day the world ends. No one knows why, but strange creatures have appeared outside, and they’re driving people into violent rages. One glimpse of a creature can make a person commit suicide or homicide. Malorie and a few other survivors move into a house and board up the windows, but they can’t stay there forever. They will eventually run out of supplies. Also, the creatures seem to be multiplying. Four years after the world ends, Malorie and her children climb into a boat—blindfolded—and hope that the river takes them somewhere safer.
“It's better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it take you in pieces.” – Bird Box
The concept for this book is so creepy! Imagine being blindfolded and surrounded by creatures that want to kill you. Um . . . no thanks. That would be completely terrifying. The characters come up with a few ingenious methods of detecting the creatures, but none of the methods are 100% effective. This is one of the most unique concepts for a horror story I’ve seen in a long time.
The pacing is excellent. In the present-day timeline, Malorie and her children are floating down a river blindfolded. They can hear the creatures in the forest around them, but if they take off their blindfolds, they’ll die. The flashback chapters show how the apocalypse happened and how Malorie got herself to safety. The chapters are very short, so it felt like I was flying through this book. I could sit and read big chunks of it without getting bored.
“We left because some people choose to wait for news and others make their own.” – Bird Box
Unfortunately, other than the concept and the pacing, there isn’t a lot I love about this novel. The writing and character development are kind of . . . atrocious. I know that’s a mean word, but I didn’t like them at all.
The writing feels amateurish at times. Malorie has these repetitive inner monologues that bugged me. They just don’t seem necessary. I know she’s scared. She doesn’t need to have a half-page argument with herself about being scared. She especially doesn’t need to have the same argument with herself a dozen times.
The reader doesn’t learn much about the characters. We get one or two traits about each character, but none of the characters have any depth. Tom is the leader, Don is the paranoid one, Jules has a dog. None of them feel like real people to me. Malorie doesn’t have a personality. Her kids are called Boy and Girl, and we don’t learn anything about them. It’s hard to be scared for the characters if I don’t care about them.
I think there are too many coincidences in this book. Two random pregnant ladies show up at the safe house, and they both have their babies at the exact same moment. Malorie’s roommates find two dogs that both happen to be huskies. Malorie is forced to drive a car without her blindfold, but she doesn’t see any creatures, even though they are everywhere. The coincidences frustrated me because I didn’t see a reason for them.
Finally, we don’t learn anything about the creatures. I know that showing us the monsters would ruin the suspense, but I was hoping we’d learn something about them by the end. Where did they come from? What do they look like? How intelligent are they? We never find out.
Sorry if this review is harsh, but I was kind of disappointed in this book. The concept is amazing, but the execution could have been better.
“A grisly story, but one whose notoriety Malorie attributes to the seemingly senseless way the Internet has of making random occurrences famous.” – Bird Box
TL;DR: Creepy story that kept me turning pages. It could have been truly terrifying if I cared about the characters.