I forgot to post a culminating update for the TBR Takedown Readathon, but the last book I read for that was Bird Box by Josh Malerman—and omg, we have to talk about this book.
First of all, this book was so scary. I had the absolute pleasure of reading it straight through on a really dreary, damp day, where I sat out on the front porch for hours surrounded by gray clouds and stormy wind – it was the perfect atmosphere for scaring the bejesus out of myself.
The idea of Bird Box is basically this: one day, somewhere in Russia, a guy suddenly and brutally murders someone before killing himself. Then, a little while later, another person does the same thing. And another. And another. The vicious, violent, senseless murders and suicides trail eastward across Russia, hit Alaska, move through Canada, and come down into the United States. Something is happening. People are seeing something and then—they’re breaking. They go mad with violence, brutally killing themselves and anyone around them.
People are scared to look outside. They don’t know if this is something chemical, psychological, or if there’s some thing out there that, when you see it, makes you go homicidally, suicidally, vicious.
People begin boarding up their houses, sealing up the windows, wearing blindfolds if they have to go outside. Society crumbles. There is only fear, only danger, and only darkness left.
The story is told in two perspectives: present day Malorie, a young mom of two four year olds, who has decided she can no longer live in her boarded up house. The present-day story is of Malorie paddling her blindfolded children down a river they must blindly navigate, headed for some salvation that might not even be there. These chapters switch back and forth with Malorie from about 4 years ago, finding out she’s pregnant right at the start of this terrifying epidemic (if a sickness can really describe what’s going on.)
To say anything else would be to spoil the story. There are so many fun things going on here. You’ve got the survival terror of Malorie on the river. The confusion and suspense of the spreading epidemic. Past!Malorie finds salvation in a house for survivors, but suspicion and discord, and fear of the unknown threat outside, begin to tear the group apart at the seams. All this is coupled with questions like, how does society function if no one can safely go outside? Who can survive in a world like this, where opening your eyes could kill you? How do you raise children in a world they can never safely see? What the hell is going on??
Disclaimer: I love horror movies. Not gory, torture-centric horror movies, so much, but anything suspenseful, anything with ghosts or haunted houses or found footage, anything that makes me nervous. (Is this a good thing? Someone with an anxiety condition willingly torturing themselves with scary movies? Probably not. But I can’t hear you from my secure location hidden under my bed, so.)
Bird Box read like a horror movie. It would make a great movie. Very cinematic, so suspenseful, so creepy. I really loved how everything tied together at the end, and how the story really fed you clues and information fragmentally, so you were kept in a state of suspended anxiety, wondering so many things—if this little family is going to survive this trip down the river, where wild animals and turned people threaten every turn—what happened to everyone else Malorie knew, her family, her friends at her sanctuary, what happened to them?—and what’s causing this sickness? Can it be stopped? Or can it only be endured, battled against? The whole atmosphere reminded me of The Walking Dead, a horrible future where survival is all you can think about, survival against the thing that is out there as much as survival against the people who are left.
This wasn’t mind-blowing literature or anything, and if I wanted to pick apart the writing, I’m sure I could. But this was a solid story, well paced, and it was a fun, creepy read. If you like freaking yourself out, and you want a great, fast-paced book for Halloween, I’ll bet it’ll be hard for you to put this own down.
Has anyone else read Bird Box? What did you think? Or–what’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? I’m all about the creep this October. After Bird Box, I read Whatever Happened to Baby Jane — VERY suspenseful — and now I’m on S., which promises to be a creepy, suspenseful thriller. Did you put anything creepy in your October TBR? Leave a comment, let’s talk!