Y’ALL. Bird Box. Read it. It’s the most terrifying book I’ve read in I-can’t-remember-when. “But Lindsay,” you say, “you don’t like scary books! Remember Salem’s Lot?” Yes, that is, indeed, the case. I generally don’t read scary books, and I rarely like them when I do. But Bird Box is different!
And it’s so hard to talk about it without spoilers. Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll add spoiler alerts at the beginning and end of the massive Spoiler Time, you you can just hop down. Because you don’t want this one spoiled.
It’s about Malorie, a young woman who just found out she’s pregnant as news of a “Russian Report” emerges, in which there have been incidents in Russia of people suddenly becoming violent toward others, then killing themselves. Reports spread, eventually, to the United States. No one knows for sure what’s causing it, but they think they’ve figure out that the victims see something before they die. So people start boarding up their windows and stop leaving their houses. The violence spreads, and Malorie and her sister can no longer get in touch with their parents who live in a town with a reported incident. Then Malorie’s sister ends up dead in the bathroom with slit wrists. They had covered the downstairs windows, but not the upstairs ones. Then Society Falls Apart. Flash forward (or, really, backward to the first scene of the book and in other scenes interspersed throughout) to Malorie with two four-year-old children, escaping their house, blindfolded, feeling their way down to the river, where a rowboat sits. They get in the rowboat, still blindfolded, then start down the river. They are entirely reliant upon their hearing, and the kids are especially good at warning of danger because Malorie has trained them to live in this world since birth. They have never even seen anyone or anything outside their house. So here they are, rowing downriver in total blackness, following vague directions Malorie got from a lucky phone call.
Oh. My. Gosh.
Okay, here’s the spoiler alert. I can’t say what I think about this novel without one. We all, by now, know, that I hate violent and gory books. Most scary books are violent and gory. Bird Box, however, isn’t, for the most part. The best part of this novel is that we never find out what these “Creatures” really are – are they aliens? Are they men? Is it just the world going insane? And, strangely, I liked the happyish ending. Most post-apocalypse books have a sad – or at least ambivalent – ending. It’s like they’re supposed to. I really like that Josh Malerman bucked that trend and made things, at least for the time being, turn out okay. It was refreshing. End of spoiler.
What I said in the paragraph above, minus the spoilers, is that this book is different and refreshing. It doesn’t follow the usual horror novel pattern, and it’s very well written. I had a hard time not finishing this novel in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop. I was immediately swept up in the story, and I wanted to see it through to the end. And that journey is totally worth it.
Shortly after I started reading it, I flipped to the back of the book to read the author blurb. Turns out Josh Malerman is the lead singer of some band I’ve never heard of, and this is his first book. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry! To him, I say, Good job, sir. Bird Box is excellent, and it’s totally worth a read. Just expect to spend an evening unable to pull yourself away.
Aaaaand here’s a puppy with hiccups: