Author: Josh Malerman
Format: Kindle Edition
Page Count: 291
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller, Adult fiction
When you find yourself home alone for an entire, rainy day, what do you do? I decide to read a scary book because I hate myself.
Malorie lives in an abandoned home with her two young children. They do not look outside—ever. Malorie’s children have never seen the outside world. Malorie hasn’t seen it herself in five years. Something is out there, something that, if seen, will make you go mad. Make you hurt those around you. Make you kill yourself. But Malorie wants more for her children than a life lived in fear, seclusion, and darkness—she is ready to make the journey to the safe place. But in order to do so, she must travel twenty miles downriver in a rowboat, guided only by hearing. It sounds impossible to Malorie, but she knows she must try. But no matter what, they will not open their eyes. They cannot.
Back in October I added this book to my TBR when I read a little blurb about it on a list of scary books to read this year. I never got around to it until today, less than a week after the adaptation was released on Netflix. You know me—I can’t watch an adaptation without first reading the book, so here I am. I managed to read it in just a day. I usually never have time for this kind of luxury, so I make sure not to take these kinds of days for granted.
Bird Box is told in third-person POV in chapters alternating between past and present. Present-day Malorie is beginning the journey with her children to the safe place; past-Malorie is detailing the events leading up to the journey. Both time periods are equally disturbing and terrifying. It’s a very fast-paced story that’ll make your heart pound with anticipation. And fear. Especially if, like me, you have a dog constantly getting up at seemingly random intervals to bark out the window. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand how unnerving this can be (especially if you’re home alone). If you haven’t read the book, I suggest not reading it alone, or with a dog.
The premise is kind of like the opposite of A Quiet Place. (If you haven’t seen A Quiet Place, you should—basically, if you make a sound, the creatures will get you. In this story, the danger lies in opening your eyes.) I had that film on my mind quite a bit while reading Bird Box. I found it so weird that the characters would yell to each other. They don’t have to be quiet, they just have to keep their eyes closed. But typically when I think of scary stuff, I think of whispering and being silent, so it was just very jarring.
Thrillers like this always make me realize how fast I’d die if a situation like this occurred. It makes me appreciate the characters so much more. In the beginning, I thought Malorie was horrible. She was rude to her children and seemed very uncaring. But as the story progressed, I realized she was just trying to protect her children (named Boy and Girl, which was odd but okay). She had to be the way she was. She needed her children to fear sight; she needed them to rely only on her and their own hearing. Man, children always make these types of stories even scarier… This was certainly a scary book, and it’s exactly what I’d been needing to get me through the long day.
As for the writing, it’s not my favorite. But then again, thrillers are never really written poetically and artfully (other than Gillian Flynn’s novels, because she is the Scream Queen, let’s be real). When I pick up a horror/thriller, I’m just looking for a good, scary time—not a masterpiece. My girlfriend calls this “chips for your brain”—a snack rather than a 5-star meal. The writing got better as the story progressed, though. Or maybe I was just too hooked to notice the quality of the writing anymore. Who knows. I do know, though, that capitalized words and italics are used heavily. Beware.
If you’re looking for a short scare, definitely check out Bird Box. Especially if you’re about to settle in for the film, which I’m about to do. Alone, of course, as my girlfriend cannot stand scary movies. I’m hoping for a positive experience! You’ll be sure to hear about it.
–“The moment between deciding to open your eyes and then actually doing it is as scary a thing as there is.”
–“It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still a let it take you in pieces.”