Book Review: Bird Box
Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.
ashley | After months of anticipation and a slight obsession with everything associated with this book, I finally found time to sit down and read through Josh Malerman’s Bird Box. Though I didn’t need to find much time to do so; I read through this so quickly and got so wrapped up in it all that the wait leading up to it was worth every second.
I already had sort of an idea of what I was in for after meeting Malerman at Harper Collins a few weeks ago. He did a reading from the book, so I kind of knew his written voice and what kind of tone the story took. It’s very quick, conversation tends to be right to the point and a lot of what is happening happens rapidly with short sentences and no unnecessary description.
The description is saved for the dark, suspenseful moments and by contrast, these moments hit hard. Similar to how a movie would build suspense with a soundtrack, by delving into the description of what a character is feeling, hearing, noticing in every sense outside of actually seeing, I felt my own anxiety rise, waiting for the climactic moment that the horror is revealed. Bird Box is full of these moments. Just when you think you’re safe, something else comes at you.
The book shifts between the present, with Malorie blindly rowing up a river to what she hopes is safety, to flashing back on her journey to a house where she first meets some of the other characters and eventually explains how she came to be alone on the river with her two children.
A story about a woman who can’t see anything, traveling quietly down a river seems like it would make an incredibly boring plot, but Malerman is able to build so much around this one journey that even though she’s rowing for hours, the book is flying by rapidly.
I admire that Malerman is writing from a woman’s perspective. This isn’t something rare, but it’s always interesting to me to see a man choose to do this, especially in their debut novel. Malerman proves he has a strong understanding of the female mind and Malorie is a strong, complex, emotional character that defies gender.
Something else I really like about Bird Box is that little detail is given to what these creatures look like or are. I mean, anyone who looks at them goes mad so to be able to give an accurate description isn’t likely. This aspect let my own mind run wild. I was filling in the details of what these creatures must look like, or what they look like to me, what I would fear the most if I were cornered or followed or alone in a room with one. When you start putting your own perception of monster into the story, things are even scarier.
Bird Box is a future where if you look outside, you risk going mad. But if you don’t, it’s almost as if you’ll go madder. And if you don’t read this book, you’re the most mad of all.