Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman
I received a copy of this book via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Close your eyes.
You probably have a pretty good sense of what’s around you. You see it all the time.
But would you be able to go about your day like normal? Make breakfast, drive the car, raise your children, all with your eyes closed? Could you do it if there were unknown creatures hovering around every corner? And if you open your eyes, even for a second, and get a glimpse of said creature, you’ll kill yourself and those around you. It sounds impossible but it is exactly the life Malorie, the protagonist of Bird Box, leads everyday.
This is hands down the scariest book I’ve read this year. But unlike other horror stories, it doesn’t fall back on shock tactics or gore to disturb the reader. It disturbs through building suspense over every page, pulling the tension so tight it feels like it may snap at any moment, but it never does. The story alternates between Malorie’s present situation of trying to raise two young children in this new blindfolded world and the months leading up to their birth, in the early days of the creatures’ arrival. Having the book arranged in this manner allows Malerman to gradually increase the tension and stakes, all the while dangling a future version of Malorie in front of you to keep that tiny shred of hope alive.
The reader is only given the bare minimum of information about the creatures, because as Dumbledore once taught us – fear of a name is fear of the thing itself. The scariest things already live in our imagination. If Malerman had gone into great detail about what the creatures were and what they look like, it would have taken away some of their power. They would have become something the readers could deconstruct. But as it is, you have no idea what the characters in Bird Box are seeing that makes them snap, and your mind will start running through every worst case scenario you can think of. Your worst nightmares will start springing up over your shoulders or peering through your windows, never giving you any warning before they strike.
But Bird Box is more than just a horror story. It’s also a story of motherhood. Of one woman trying to survive with her children. Malorie is no fool – she couldn’t be to survive for so long – so she is realistic about the future of Boy and Girl. So realistic she doesn’t even name them. There are going to be moments where her parenting strategy makes you cringe, but it forces you to ask yourself if you wouldn’t do the same thing in her position. Her tactics have kept the children alive for years when so many others have died. There is something familiar in her actions, extreme though they may be. Malorie demonstrates that, no matter what the situation, a mother will go to any lengths to protect her children and try and give them a better life.
Bird Box is a haunting novel of one woman’s struggle to survive, and the terrifying collapse of life as we know it. Blindness meets Stephen King, in this nightmare-inducing tale you won’t be able to put down.
Bird Box is available now at a bookstore near you.