Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.
Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?
Song For This Book: He’s Behind You by Louise Heaney
This book is huge where I live now. I actually heard of it while in Chapters. I was checking out, and the first thing that the cashier said to me was, ‘Have you heard of Bird Box?’ So I looked it up, and I immediately knew that I had to read it. The cover, the synopsis, everything was just so appealing.
And it was so worth it. I read this book in two hours, because I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I just had to know how it ended, what happened to Malorie and her kids, and what is causing everyone to die.
This book is a fascinating study in psychological terror and the unknown. We only know what the characters know, and that’s not a lot. But we do know to be afraid of what is out there, and that we are in danger. Their desperation and fear comes through the entire book, and you can’t help but feel scared for them, for whatever they’re going to face. It is told in alternating present and past chapters, filling you in on the back story as Malorie and her children are making their way down the river, keeping you hooked and desperate to know what is going on beyond their closed eyes.
I think this book is particularly fascinating because it forces us to imagine existing in a world where one of the senses we rely on the most is taken away from us. Can you imagine not seeing the outside world for years at a time? That’s what these people are living through. If they need to get around outside, they have to do it blind. It’s a terrifying thought, and it could make for a really weird book, but Malerman pulls it off beautifully in this novel.
The Good Points of Bird Box:
The key to books like this is keeping that creepy, unsettling feeling going throughout, and Malerman does this incredibly well. It’s never to the point of feeling scary or terrifying, but you never quite feeling comfortable either.
This was something that annoyed me at first, but I grew to love later on: we only know what the characters know. It’s incredibly frustrating to not know how it all started, where these creatures came from, or even what they are, but it adds to the atmosphere and desperation of the book, and allows you to focus just on how people are reacting and handling the whole situation. It’s a great depiction of survival in the face of the unknown.
This book is written in a way that you aren’t too focused on the words. Not to say it’s simplistic or anything of the story, it’s just straight forward and easy. It lets you stay focused on the story, without getting tangled up in the words.
Many loose ends in this story are not tied up, which keeps you wondering long after you’ve put the book down. It’s one of those stories that stick with you.
The Downsides of Bird Box:
This is perhaps a minor thing, but it really irked me that Malorie never bothered to name the children. I know it’s basically the end of the world, but you should be calling children something other than Boy and Girl.
Because there is so much focus on the plot and the situation, the characters don’t get developed as much as I would have liked. We mostly just see the characters as who they are when they are reacting to their situation.
All in all, I think you definitely need to go out and read this book. It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and three days later, I’m still thinking about it on a regular basis. Part of me wants someone to turn this into a movie, but the other part is terrified that they will completely ruin it by adding too much to the story.
Have you read this one? What did you think?