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A Book Review of “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman

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Rose is an enthusiastic writer and reader who publishes articles every Thursday. She enjoys all book genres, especially drama and fantasy.

“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman

“Bird Box” by Josh Malerman

What’s the Big Deal?

It’s likely that you’ve heard of Bird Box. The movie version, which was released in 2018 and starred Sandra Bullock, became extremely popular upon its release. Not only did it have 80 million views on Netflix; not only was it the most-watched movie for a year; according to Newsweek, it also became the most-watched Netflix film of all time.

Critics didn’t like it, but most ordinary viewers did, leaving it with mixed reviews and an upcoming sequel—however, none of this would have been possible without Josh Malerman, the author of the original Bird Box book and a king of gripping, taunting thrillers.

Plot Summary

Malorie and her sister, Shannon, are two ordinary women with ordinary lives until something strange starts being reported on the news. It’s a phenomenon they don’t know much about; all anyone knows is that it has to do with seeing something—perhaps an animal—and when you see that thing, you immediately kill yourself and sometimes the people around you. It starts in Russia, but soon, it’s affecting America, too. So when Shannon sees one of the creatures and dies, Malorie has no choice but to escape to someplace she and her unborn baby might be safer.

Blindfolded and terrified, Malorie drives past what was once her carefree neighborhood and is now a desolate, creepy ghost town. She goes to a house a few blocks down, a safe place where a few others are staying—she’d seen an ad for it in the newspaper. Once there, Malorie begins to build a new life behind covered windows and blindfolds with her fellow housemates.

But all isn’t what it seems. Because when someone is let into the house who shouldn’t be, all hell eventually breaks loose, and Malorie is forced once again to fend for herself. Over the course of four years, she trains her child (who she gave birth to with no professional personnel) and the child of one of her housemates who died. She does this with no one else, never going outside the house, teaching the children to live with their ears instead of their eyes.

Malorie’s hope is that one day, the three of them can escape for a sanctuary she was told about over the phone mere minutes after she’d birthed her baby. It will take work because they will be blindfolded and strength because Malorie alone will have to row miles down the river to get there, but when she decides the time is right—four years after originally arriving in the safe house—they go. The trip is hard, dangerous, thrilling, and downright terrifying—and yet, in the end, it is the most worthwhile thing Malorie has ever done.

Quick Facts

  • Author: Josh Malerman
  • Pages: 276
  • Genre: Pyschological thriller, pyschological horror, apocalyptic fiction
  • Ratings: 4/5 Goodreads, 8.7/10 Fantasy Book Review
  • Release date: March 27, 2014
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager/Ecco

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if . . .

  • you’ve seen and enjoyed the global movie sensation Bird Box.
  • you like exciting novels such as A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell (also a popular movie), The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham, or The Lake House by Kate Morton.
  • you’re a fan of quick-paced, grisly, psychological thriller fiction.
  • end-of-the-world, Armageddon-style stories are a favored part of your media collection.
  • you like books that pack a punch and don’t take long to read.

How far can a person hear? Malorie needs the children to hear into the trees, into the wind, into the dirt banks that lead to an entire world of living creatures. The river is an amphitheater, Malorie muses, paddling. But it’s also a grave.

— Josh Malerman, “Bird Box”

Reviews

  • “Malerman, leader of the appropriately named rock band The High Strung, keeps us tinglingly on edge with his cool, merciless storytelling. Just when you think he's going to disappoint with a Twilight Zone–like twist, he douses his tale in poetic gloom.” —Kirkus Reviews
  • “The fear in the character’s actions and voices is real. I was so nervous for them and was continuously expecting the worst. I was on the edge of my seat and may have even lost a nail or two in the process. It is the most intense book I have ever read. It never ceases to amaze me how the written word can evoke such strong feelings.” —Wordpress.com

Official Movie Trailer

The Takeaway

For me, Bird Box was breathtaking. It was strikingly interesting, abnormally captivating, and perfectly dark and gory. It reminded me of my favorite thrillers while also boasting a special kind of writing style that only the best can master.

Reading the book was kind of like eating your favorite food—you have to force yourself not to devour it too quickly! I really liked the Bird Box movie, so this book was the obvious next step for me. If you enjoyed the movie too, I would highly recommend its predecessor.