Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

 Reviewed by Damean

Driven by an unknown force, people all over the world are killing each other before killing themselves. The only thing that is clear to those remaining is if you see whatever is causing the phenomenon, you go mad. Survivors of the initial wave of deaths are forced to adapt to a world where they can't look outside, and must use a blindfold just to step foot outside of secured buildings. Malorie is pregnant when the hysteria first begins, and has to adapt to pregnant life as well as motherhood in a world it is not safe to look at. In a desperate attempt to find safety Malorie must guide herself and two children through this dangerous world - all while blindfolded.

I found this book to be quite interesting. The language used by Malerman throughout the novel is very fluid, allowing the reader to, for lack of a better term, see the world he is creating. Using every other sense available to them the survivors of this wrecked society must find new ways to adapt to the terrifying world, leading to a sometimes heart-pounding sense of helplessness for the reader. 

More than once while reading this book I actually had to stop what I was doing and take a breath to get my bearings. There aren't a lot of books I can say sufficiently scared me, but this was one. The mystery and horror presented by the mere idea of not being able to look at the world around you creates an almost palpable fear as the characters face the changed world around them, even the most mundane task becoming a harrowing risk. 

The book jumps through a few different time periods, and sometimes it can be hard to grab where the story is taking you as chapters change, but once you are back in the flow of the novel there aren't many loose ends to navigate through. Some characters could have stood a little more development, and some stories could have been threaded a little stronger, but I think the ambiguity in the work was acceptable given the quality of the finished product. 

I liked the fact that, even though multiple theories circulate to explain what is happening and what people are seeing, we aren't bogged down with descriptions of mysterious monsters, or potential chemical compounds or anything that pulls from the direct action of the story. At its heart, Bird Box is a sensory thrill ride that really shows the reader just how much we rely on our ability to see. We should not overlook the irony that you have to see to read the book, of course. If you want to really dive into the world of Malorie and the other survivors, put on a blindfold and sit on your porch while listening to the audio book. It will be quite a different experience. 

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