Bird Box by Josh Malerman


“It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it take you in pieces.”

This is possibly the most stressful book I’ve ever read.

Malarie has just moved in with her sister, only to discover that she is newly pregnant as the result of a one time encounter, when suddenly the whole world starts going to shit. In Russia reports begin to saturate the Internet of people commuting brutal murder for apparently no reason and then ultimately ending their own lives in whatever fashion is most conveinient and the least time consuming. The chaos and murder spreads to America, and people begin to reason that whatever is causing ‘the problem’ is a product of something that people see and so people begin blocking out their windows, walking around blindfolded and eventually stop going outside for fear of what they could see and what it may cause them to do. Malorie finds an ad in the paper of a house where survivors have got together to create a kind if refuge and decides to go there to escape the madness of of the outside world, but to do so, she has to expose herself to it first.

Ooh this book is intense. Much in the same way a movie can build tension because your vision is so limited by whatever the camera sees, Bird Box’s narratives are told by people who can’t see at all and so every little breaking branch or fluttering bird becomes a constant source of terror because what if it wasn’t just a bird? What if it was some psycho with an axe standing inches from your face while you’re fetching water?

Malerman continually plays on the impulse we have to shed light on a threat and it reminded me of that sensation you have as a kid, when you’re in your bedroom in the dark, with your back to the door, and you know that there are no monsters, or ghosts, but the more you ignore that feeling you have of being watched, the more terrified you become until you just make yourself turn and look. But in Bird Box, they can’t and it’s horrible, but in a great way. I found this to be especially interesting when seeing how the children, raised in a world without ever being allowed to see it and therefore are not reliant on sound, react to being blindfolded and outside, compared to Malorie’s response to it. They have no reason to fear a thing they can’t see and so aren’t subject to imagined threats, and when presented with sounds of potential predators, aren’t afraid because they couldn’t even begin to imagine what might be hunting them. But this doesn’t seem to make them vulnerable, instead they are far more capable than Malorie, who is equally terrified of the imagined as the real. I don’t want to get into too much detail about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it. But if you ever watched The Happening because it sounded really amazing, only to be disappointed by the terrible acting and even worse big bad monster then you would love this. Finished it in an afternoon because I couldn’t not find out what would happen next.



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