Bird Box by Josh Malerman

bird boxIn Bird Box, a person only has to glimpse something, though nobody is quite sure what that something is, to suddenly lose their minds, kill anyone near them, and then kill themselves. The book switches between Malorie in the present, who is looking after two young children and hasn’t looked outside in four years, and what happened four years ago.

There is a point in the book where a load of birds suddenly go nuts, signally something really bad is about to happen. At exactly the same time as I read the sentence, a load of birds suddenly went nuts outside my window. It was dark outside, and I hadn’t closed the curtains, so anything, anyone, could have been peering in at me and I wouldn’t be able to see them. I should have been terrified, but I wasn’t. And that was my problem with Bird Box. The book is filled with tension, it’s a page-turner, but I just wasn’t scared.

Perhaps my imagination just isn’t good enough, but I think that a book is the wrong medium for this story. This would work so much better, and be much scarier, as a radio play or enhanced ebook with all the silence / creepy noises. The sound of a leaf suddenly crunching, a splash of water, a book falling from a shelf, become all the more terrifying when you, as the listener, are effectively blindfolded along with the characters. It could also work as a film, but only if the director in no way attempts to show the creatures, as the horror of the story relies on never quite knowing what’s out there.

The ending is the main thing that didn’t work for me. It was far too wrapped-up and so was disappointing after the rest book hinged on a constant sense of uncertainty. I do have a real thing about happy/neat-in-a-bow endings that just don’t fit the rest of the story, it always kind of ruins the book as a whole for me. If Bird Box had an ambiguous, terrifying, or just plain horrible ending I think I would have liked it as a book much more.

I think there is an ebook version, I’m not sure who narrates it, but I would definitely listen to this rather than read it. Listen to it on a windy, stormy night, when there are all sorts of noises outside to freak you out afterwards.

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One Response to Bird Box by Josh Malerman

  1. Pingback: November Reads | mischief and miscellany

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