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I've noticed a lack of good old scary stories in the last few years. Gory shock value is all over the place, and that's fine for what it is, but I've often wished authors would spend more time on their characters' psychology. Bird Box turned out to be just what I've been looking for.
Malorie and her sister have moved into a house together when reports start to come in from all over the world: normal people are glimpsing something that instantly turns them into crazed killers. While the Internet boils with theories, people gradually stop driving, stop shopping, and finally they just barricade themselves in their homes with the doors and windows blocked. Society eventually falls apart, yet Malorie finds hope and musters the strength to go on. But she can't live like a prisoner forever, so she begins a terrifying blindfolded journey to what she desperately hopes will be enduring safety.
I have to say it took me a good half-hour to get into this one. The narrator didn't really do it for me, with uneven reading volume and more angst than seemed necessary. It didn't help that Malorie imbues even the most boring object with intense dramatic feelings.
But I'm really glad I spent the time, because Bird Box turned out to be one of the best books I've listened to for a while. After the first chapter or two, we meet the real Malorie (not just the dramatic one) and hear her story--which is compelling, to say the least. By midway through, I completely understood the feelings those objects brought up, and the angst, too.
The real star of this book is the author's handling of his themes: fear, bravery, putting faith and trust in others and yourself. All those things can be scary, but sometimes you just have to face them anyway, even when you're blindfolded. Malorie and her friends give it their best, with varying results, in an evocative illustration of what it's like to be part of a group of survivors.
Throughout the book, Malorie's memories of the past alternate with her frightening present, creating suspense that made it really hard to stop listening. I did the last three hours in one go, putting off bedtime again and again.
There isn't a lot of how-and-why here, and logic nitpickers ("That couldn't possibly happen! It'd be more like..." etc) will probably be driven insane. But if you're looking for real horror, Bird Box is a sustained scare that will keep you thinking long after the book is over.
50 of 56 people found this review helpful
Excellent blend of SF and horror. The author's ability to bring alive this story without revealing the unseen horror (or, more accurately, the creature that must be left unseen lest the viewer plunges into madness marked by homicide and then suicide). Malerman carefully construct the narrative, bouncing from events 4.5 years earlier with the present-day effort of Mallory to find some measure of safety for the two, unnamed children in her care. The opening chapter plunges the reader into an altered world, where windows are anathema, blindfolds are protection, and answers are out of reach. Society seems crippled and mostly dead, and unknown creatures walk the world - but these creatures do not seem to physically assault or stalk humans, but simply by existing and being seen inflict madness. The author then expertly jogs back in time to the early days when scattered and unsubstantiated reports trickle in of people going mad and killing others then themselves. We know immediately from the present-day chapters that Mallory is now alone with two children, but we don't know how she came to be sole parent in these dreadful times. We know she believes she must brave a 20 mile river passage blindfolded to try to find safety. In flashback, we find Mallory and her sister living unremarkable lives. Mallory finds she is pregnant as the news stories come faster and inexplicable events creep ever closer to their Detroit home. The flashback chapters depict a world falling apart, first slowly and then with extreme rapidity. We follow Mallory as she tries to find refuge with others, life in a new house, pregnancy waxing as we know that time in a this cooperative house with support and help are waning. As we move ever closer to the unknown catastrophe that leaves her alone. The story is well-balanced and beautifully crafted, melancholy and frightening, suspenseful and heart-breaking. Well worth the time, though you may find it difficult to gaze out a window while doing so.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful