Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Published by Ecco on May 13th 2014
Genres: Adult, Horror
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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.
I was up til 3am to finish this. Holy fuuuuuu…! This was one hell of a crazy ride. I love horror and thriller novels, and this one kept me on the edge of insanity from beginning to end.
It began with strange news stories of sudden killing sprees ending in suicide. A LOT of suicides. From people who were good, happy, full of life. When more and more stories started to pop up, Malorie, once skeptical, started to get very very nervous. She only knows one thing, and it’s that it’s all caused by something you see. Something that your mind either can’t process or understand to such a degree that you lose your sanity. Which means to survive, you need to learn how to live without eyesight. I found this incredibly frightening. There’s nothing more terrifying than the unknown, and this book utilizes this concept to perfection. Blindfolded throughout most of the story, we walk through this ravaged world with nothing but eerie noises and gut feelings that something is terribly wrong. That danger is RIGHT THERE, watching you. It plays with our imaginations in a wild, horrifying way. It’s easy to understand how people died, even knowing how to protect themselves. Not taking a peek would be so hard in that scenario – either fear or plain curiosity would be the end of many. I was even trying to mentally coax our protagonist to just look, just for a second. GAH!
Told using past and present perspectives, we learn how it all began, how Malorie made it to this point, and how she’s now surviving – merely existing, really – with two small children, trying to figure out how to make a better life for them in a seemingly dying world. The character building is excellent. You get to know Malorie through and through. She also grows quite a lot from the skeptical, average young woman to a strong, determined survivor throughout this story. She raised these kids in a harsh, yet necessary way for them to survive. It really broke my heart, but I understood its necessity. It’s easy to put ourselves in her shoes. When she was terrified, I was terrified along with her. When she felt something watching her, I found myself covered in goosebumps. It was some fantastic writing! We also meet a bunch of secondary characters who end up being a sort of family unit, getting through this tragedy together. The group dynamic is soon shaken, though, when a new guy arrives with crazy stories and a weird vibe. No matter what the end brings, there will always be humans who end up being just as threatening, it seems. We can be our own worst enemy, sometimes.
For my one minor complaint, there were a couple of events in the book that had me question its realism. Events that were maybe added for shock or emotional value, but appeared a bit too easy or simply unlikely. This wasn’t a big deal overall, though, especially how everything else – the fear, the desperation, the reactions – felt incredibly genuine. The ending could be a hit or miss for some. Don’t expect to get many answers to the “why” of it all – you can only know what your characters know. I would definitely recommend this to fans of horror, especially those who enjoy post-apocalyptic/survival stories.
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