Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Title: Bird Box

Author: Josh Malerman

Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror

Number of Pages: 262

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes


I haven’t watched the film adaptation of this novel, and to be honest I think I’m probably not going to. It seems unlikely that the movie will measure up to the book and the book is so good I don’t really need to see the movie and compare the two. I’ll go ahead and admit that I don’t read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, not because I don’t like some of the books these genres have to offer but because I just generally prefer the realistic stuff. I heard about Bird Box even before the Netflix hype train hit and I immediately thought the premise seemed pretty cool and unique.


The heroine of Bird Box is a relentlessly protective mother named Malorie, who is living in a devastated society where people have to blindfold themselves every time they leave the houses they’re hiding in and go outside. If you go outside with your eyes open and uncovered, an unseen entity will make you go insane and kill your loved ones before killing yourself. Malorie’s two children, who are called simply ‘the boy’ and ‘the girl’ throughout most of the book, have never gotten to find out what living in a normal world would be like. Malorie keeps them holed up 99% of the time in a safe house where all the other occupants have died. She is aware of a rumor broadcast over the radio offering a more long-term place for survivors to stay, and she decides to take her kids and make a break for the sanctuary, all three of them forced to rely only on sound, smell, and touch.


The prose in this novel practically crackled with energy and tension, and there wasn’t a single dull moment. I spent the entire duration of the book genuinely hyped to find out what would happen to Malorie and the kids. There’s a sequel coming out and I’m almost afraid to read it in case it has a tragic ending. I loved how strong Malorie’s character was and how she never gave up on fighting for the survival of her and her children. Some of the things she did to her kids to equip them for the nasty reality of survival were pretty awful, but I also think they were justifiable considering the circumstances and one of the crucial things that kept the son and daughter alive.


When the survivors in the safe house where Malorie is staying at the beginning were alive, she obviously had some romantic feelings for Tom, a fierce and diplomatic natural leader. There doesn’t end up being any nookie between them and they remain in a ‘professional’ situation as they struggle to survive, and Josh Malerman vastly ignores romantic and sexual relationships in favor of focusing on the theme of motherhood. I loved that, because the truth is that Malorie didn’t need a love interest or a duo of guys to have an angsty conflict over to be a great character. I mean, romance is great and all, but this was an instance where it wasn’t needed and the characters were pragmatic without indulging in relationship drama or similar bickering.


I recommend Bird Box for anyone who wants to read a novel they can easily get engaged in. I’d say it’s more suspenseful than outright scary, but Josh Malerman does a lot with developing tension and creating a strong sense of the terrifying world he’s created.



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