Bird Box

Bird Box - Josh Malerman Imagine a world where it was not safe to see. Where something was out there so horrific that if you laid eyes on it you would be compelled to kill yourself. That’s the world into which Malorie brings her two children. The world was normal when Malorie found out she was pregnant but quickly turned so horrible that she was tempted to blind her children at birth. Instead she taught them to wake up with their eyes closed, trust their other senses and wear blindfolds when it was necessary for them to go outdoors.

Now the children are four years old and Malorie is tired of living by herself, of being frightened every day and not knowing if there are other people out there or not. Long ago, before the phones all went down she received a call from someone setting up a colony that would be safe from the unknown presence. Malorie had two babies and negotiating the twenty-mile boat trip while blindfolded seemed too daunting to undertake. Now she felt ready and the time had come when she had to try but … Would the colony have survived? … Would the safe haven she had dreamt about for four years still exist?

As a debut this book has a lot going for it. The book is well written and considering we never really know (because the characters themselves don’t know) what the threat is and where it came from, Mr. Malerman does an excellent job in building both terror and suspense. At the end of each chapter I would sit back and, with the utmost sense of superiority, think to myself “well, why didn’t they try this?” and then sure enough in the next chapter they did! It made me feel involved with the story and also helped to build the suspense.

As a debut this book has a few problems as well. The idea is not original, let’s face it the unknown, unseen threat outside the door has been done before. The lone survivor trying for a safe haven has been done before. Occasionally, the story flipping from the past to the present and back again got a little confusing. This book has been compared to McCarthy’s “The Road” and Mr. Malerman has been compared to Stephen King. High praise indeed, but possibly a case of marketing overkill just now. I do look forward to other books by this new author and then I’ll make up my mind about the flattering comparisons.