- Bird Box.
- Josh Malerman.
- 305 pages.
- Horror / Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent; they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew.
Then the Internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing
And we couldn’t look outside anymore.
Bird Box seamlessly weaves past and present timelines, fusing them together to make an atmospheric, emotional, fervent and gripping read.
The present storyline takes place five years after the world came undone due to the appearance of mysterious creatures (of an unknown origin) that, at the sight of them caused humans to go mad and details the harrowing twenty-mile boat trip downriver to an unknown destination (we only get to find out where she is going very late in the book) that Malorie (as well as her two young children) undertakes. On the river, outside and at the mercy of the creatures, every sound means danger and could lead to death.
In the past, the storyline starts a few months before the world goes to hell and ends roughly a few months after. Random violent acts are reported on the TV and the Internet. As the scattered acts become more common and constant rumours abound that the cause of these incidents is that people are seeing ‘something’ before they go crazy. The world starts falling apart at the seams and Malorie ends up living with a group of fellow survivors.
Fear of the unknown is the worst fear of them all and that is what we are dealing with in Bird Box. There is something malevolent out there, unidentified creatures that lurk on the fringes and wait to strike out at anyone who sees them. No-one actually knows what they are though as catching even a fleeting glimpse leads you down the road to madness and violence.
Outside, you can never open your eyes and instead, you need to rely on your other senses, hearing, smell and touch. Sight isn’t available to you as it leads to insanity. No sight, no light and the world in Bird Box is shrouded in black as you live in all-consuming darkness.
To survive, you forgo sight, hiding your eyes behind a blindfold and heightening your other senses with the aim of staying alive. Even going outside for amenities like getting water from a well is a frightening experience and a fear-filled expedition that requires preparation and safety protocols. You can’t see, you can’t look for fear of seeing a creature, you are hindered by your self-inflicted blindness and you don’t know if the creatures are miles away or mere inches away from your face.
As the main character, Malorie is one tough cookie but she doesn’t start out that way and we see her toughen up, becoming hardened by the hard world. A mother of two young children, she has spent her time alone training both herself and her two children on how to survive in the dangerous new world. Honing their ears, teaching them to listen and how to discern different noises at a distance as listening is the most important sense of them all. Malorie is the force that pulls the story along. Exuding a quiet strength with a fierce love for her nameless children, called only ‘boy‘ and ‘girl‘.
Bird Box is fairly light on the blood and gore. There are a few horrific events that occur but Malerman doesn’t go into excess detail with them. He doesn’t try for shock value tactics and glorify the acts of violence. Instead, they are used to show the terrifying effect that seeing the creatures have on humans, why it is of the utmost importance to wear a blindfold and the brutality and ever-present danger that has risen up to lay claim to the world.
There’s an easy flow to how Malerman writes with no padding, no wasted words, building tension and a sense of terror. Both timelines grab the readers attention and don’t let go. Add in short chapters that alternate between the past and the present and Bird Box is an easy book to lose yourself in. Personally, I did prefer the past story with the group of survivors. You see them trying to understand the creatures, adapting to their new way of living and their daily struggle to stay safe and survive. It painted a harsh picture of life after the creatures first appeared and showed how life and the world had irrevocably changed.
Bird Box is a short, snappy and chilling read that packs a punch and ticks all the right boxes.
Purchase Bird Box.
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