Author: Josh Malerman
Series: Bird Box #1
First Published: May 13, 2014
Genres: Horror, Post Apocalyptic
Something is out there . . .
Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse 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 remain, 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 is 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. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?
Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?
There are very few books that I would consider hard to forget, but even years after I read Bird Box, I remember how much this book chilled me. With a world gone blind after a mysterious evil appears and drives humanity insane, the premise of this novel stands out. The absence of sight means that every sound or brush felt by the character immediately creates a tense atmosphere, Bird Box comes to life by using a horror writer’s best tool: the imagination of the reader.
“How can she expect her children to dream as big as the stars if they can’t lift their heads to gaze upon them?”
The story goes back and forth between the present-day, Malorie taking the children down the river, and going back four years to the start of the apocalypse and the events that took place in a safe house with other survivors. The story starts off strong, but unfortunately became a bit of a letdown, it was a combination of several little things that made the overall experience shaky. Characters do little to protect themselves outside of putting blankets on windows, unusual considering the rampant violence and fear of the “creatures” getting inside the house. Characters take measures to ensure nothing gets in, but windows somehow were completely overlooked.
I could forgive these things for the sake of the story, but it was the final scene that did it for me, where I just went, “No way. This is too much. Things just don’t happen that way.” Everything just seemed too convenient, obviously set up for an exciting climax that to me was just too over the top. I only ended up feeling okay about the story when I finished. Despite that, I still think about this story once in a while, it has a way of sticking with you despite the flaws.
Warnings: violence, gore, animal death, suicide