Bird Box - Josh Malerman


Genre: Horror
Synopsis: Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.


 Review: Horror is one of those genres, like thrillers, by which I can potentially be hugely impressed or satisfied (even by books I don't feel are objectively flawless, such as this one), but by which I'm more commonly I'm underwhelmed by unoriginality or lacklustre writing.

Happily, this book (mostly) falls into the category of the former. I don't remember the last time I was so gripped by a horror novel. From the outset it was promising, indicating an unknown and unknowable enemy which terrifyingly does not itself hide in the dark, but which forces you to hide in the darkness of blindness. So much more chilling than the likes of Weeping Angels is their exact opposite - these creatures. I absolutely loved this whole concept, and the creativity it inspired in the characters in their attempt to survive - how do you walk the length of a garden without your eyes? How do you scavenge for food to stay alive? How can you travel far enough to find safety? This is a genuinely, psychologically creepy novel which brings you so close to horrors you can't observe that they might pull the blindfold right off your face.

The writing, although a tad clunky in places, is great in others. I really felt a superb sense of pacing, and a wonderfully conveyed sense of confusion amidst chaos during the more tense moments. The characters were perhaps not the most developed (particularly Gary and Rick, who felt like little more than placeholders for necessary plot devices - one of which led to the ending that I'm a little unsure of). All the same, I warmed to Tom and Jules immensely, and certainly had a fair amount of respect for the lead gal Malorie. There's definitely quite a bit, largely towards the end, which requires rather a lot of salt. The unliklihood of certain events combined with a total flatness of certain characters made the whole thing underwhelming. The novel is a short and quick read, and I can't help but feel that the author could easily have fleshed it out and vastly improved it with another hundred pages.

Still, getting there is half the fun, and I enjoyed the ride on this debut novel immensely. I would happily recommend this novel to anyone who likes stories which elicit that creepy-crawly under-the-skin feeling of discomfort.

Rating: 4/5

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