- Malorie (Bird Box #2).
- Josh Malerman.
- 320 pages.
- Horror / Post-Apocalyptic.
In the old world there were many rules.
In the new world there is only one that matters: don’t open your eyes.
In the seventeen years since the ‘creatures’ appeared, many people have broken that rule. Many have looked. Many have lost their minds, their lives, their loved ones.
In that time, Malorie has raised her two children – Olympia and Tom – on the run or in hiding. Now nearly teenagers, survival is no longer enough. They want freedom.
When a census-taker stops by their refuge, he is not welcome. But he leaves a list of names – of survivors building a future beyond the darkness – and on that list are two names Malorie knows.
Two names for whom she’ll break every rule, and take her children across the wilderness, in the hope of becoming a family again…
Malorie begins where Bird Box ended at the Jane Tucker School for the Blind. A couple of years have passed for Malorie, Olympia and Tom in the relative safety of the school, but nothing lasts forever and when one of the creatures gets inside the veneer of safety that they have been living under is erased in an instant as violence erupts. It only takes one look, one person glimpsing a creature to bring down, to destroy what has been built, like a house of cards, falling and an outbreak of madness destroys the sanctuary of the school. In the resulting craziness and the chaos of the massacre Malorie, Olympia and Tom are forced to leave, abandoning the school, escaping, alone again, but for each other.
After fleeing the school they found refuge in Camp Yadin, an abandoned Summer Holiday Camp where they have spent the last decade. Camp Yadin is closed-off and isolated from the wider world with the nearest neighbour miles away. Malorie made the camp her home and it is where Olympia and Tom have grown up, from children through to the sixteen-year-old teenagers that they now both are. For ten years they have lived in peace, not safety, the new world is never safe, what happened at the school proved that. Malorie is paranoid, protective of her children, she has strict rules that they must obey and she has taught them how to survive in the harsh world where the creatures are monsters, but so too are men who are just as dangerous and danger lurks at each step, unknown, everywhere.
One day, a stranger arrives at the camp, a man claiming to be a census taker who is wandering the world gathering people’s stories, their names, their information and trading knowledge all for safety and to improve the understanding of the mysterious creatures that roam the world, that cause madness by looking at them and that have stolen sight from the world. The creatures took the outside world from humanity, they took safety, looking and sight and left humanity hidden behind blindfolds. In the new world you live in a world of black, of shadow, of darkest night and of black on black where you must not see, to see is the road to madness. A glimpse of a creature, even brief, fleeting from the corner of your eye will turn you deranged, violent and suicidal. Behind the blindfold, you live your life in your own personal darkness. The only reprieve is when you are indoors with blacked-out and covered windows, when you have checked your surroundings and followed all the safety procedures you can remove the blindfold giving you a lighter shade of dark within your own personal darkness.
The census taker has lists, locations and names of survivors. Malorie is suspicious of everyone, everything and she doesn’t trust the man refusing to open the door and let him in and even refusing to talk to him. The man leaves the information behind and on one of the lists, Olympia and Tom discover a couple of names that are familiar to them, names that they have heard Malorie talk about regularly. They tell Malorie that on the list of survivors are the names of Sam and Mary Walsh, her parents, two names that are carved, etched deep into her soul. Malorie lost contact with her parents near the beginning after the creatures first arrived, she has grieved for them and for the last seventeen years has believed them to be dead. Now, there is a chance that they survived and that they could still be alive.
With the knowledge that her beloved parents could still be somewhere out there. Malorie has to know for sure. Leaving behind the haven that she had found in Camp Yadin, and with Olympia and Tom by her side the trio set-forth out once more on a harrowing and perilous journey in search of her mother, her father, parts of her heart that she thought gone from the world.
Malorie has endured everything that has happened to her, hardship, loss, pain, trauma and tragedy. Everyone still alive from the old world who is now living in the new world has, but Malorie has suffered so much and kept on going, kept on surviving. She has given everything and has a well of strength buried deep inside of her. Hidden away in Camp Yadin she has managed to raise her two children, keeping them alive where so many have fallen, have succumbed to the creatures and the ravages of the brutal new world. Malorie lives in constant darkness and when you live in the darkness you lose your fear of the dark, and perhaps the only thing that holds no fear in the new world for Malorie is the dark. Malorie is close-minded, paranoid, ever vigilant, ever alert and lives by her rules. While Olympia and Tom have survived due to her rules they aren’t really living in Camp Yadin only surviving. Malorie won’t open up to the possibility of there being something more out there and adapting to a new way of life, a better way than living behind a blindfold and she won’t take risks.
Olympia has read and re-read all the books in Camp Yadin, over a thousand different stories telling her about various characters and how life used to be. Olympia is cautious and mature for her age where Tom is adventurous. While Olympia had her head stuck in a book Tom would be inventing. Olympia is the calming influence, the peacekeeper between Malorie and Tom who chafes at the constant rules, restrictions and always being told ‘no’ by Malorie. Tom is curious, wants to try new things, push back against the creatures and look to the future, all the things that Malorie isn’t.
From the old world, the world before the creatures arrived Malorie still remembers a time when things were normal, the outside, living without constant fear and daylight, and even after seventeen years her senses, while improved aren’t the same as those born into the new world. For Olympia and Tom, the new world and the constant threat of the creatures are all that they have ever known. For Malorie, in the time before, sight was one of her main senses, along with hearing and smell. In the new world, for people like Olympia and Tom sight is far less important, hearing and smell are of greater importance, they have been honed, improved, enhanced and their senses are far more attuned than Malorie’s. They have stronger instincts and can hear for greater distances, picking out the smallest of sounds, particularly for Tom who is able to gleam whispers on the wind from miles away, and they are able to picture the world in detail around them through their sensitive hearing.
Told in the third-person through the trio of POV characters of Malorie, Olympia and Tom the story Malorie is fast-paced, tautly written, full of emotion and insanely gripping. Malorie is the sequel to Bird Box and if pressed I would say that yes, Malorie can be read as, and works well as a stand-alone, but I’d highly recommend reading Bird Box first. The prior knowledge that you gain from Bird Box and of everything that came before adds so much extra weight to the story and gives a far deeper connection to the character of Malorie. Also, Bird Box itself is a terrific read.
Will we get to read about Malorie, Olympia and Tom again? I don’t know. If it is to be the last time that we see Malorie, Olympia and Tom then I found Malorie to be an ending tinged with hope that felt like a door closing, but also, of colour returning instead of the blackness of the blindfold, and of a future, of eyes opening for both the characters and the world, fitting and perfect.
Purchase Malorie (Bird Box #2) by Josh Malerman.
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