Victoria is an avid reader whose opinions are based on how each novel ranks within its genre.
Bird Box Book Review: Synopsis
People everywhere are spontaneously going crazy and dying. Nobody knows the exact cause, but it's reportedly from experiencing some strange visual phenomenon that causes all who see it to lose their minds and die.
After the traumatizing death of her sister, Malorie finds refuge with five others who have survived the apocalypse. Every day is a test for them trying to survive in a world where your eyes could lead to your imminent death. Malorie learns of a more civilized refuge camp and decides the risk of traveling up the river blindfolded, while risking her life, is worth it for the opportunity to find a safe place for her children to live.
The only question is: Can they make it without opening their eyes?
Pros and Cons of Bird Box
Let's breakdown some of the more specific aspects of the story, what worked and what, if anything, may have been lacking.
Pro: Fast Paced Story
I understand why this novel was turned into a movie because the pace is perfect! The author doesn't dwell heavily on the small details or overcomplicate matters with what each character is feeling, but instead focuses on the drive of his plot. Everything flows so smoothly. A part of me didn't want to watch the movie for I didn't feel it necessary after reading such a well thought out story. The book is easy to read and is not ever complicated—just what I'm looking for in a psychological thriller.
Con: Synopsis Is Misleading
When you first hear about Bird Box or first read the synopsis on the book, it seems like the main plot has to do with Malorie trying to get down the river blindfolded and what happens while she's trying. In reality, the majority of this story is her thinking of the events that took place four years prior to her trip up the river with her children. So if you think you're getting into a book about a lady and her two children traveling blindfolded up a river, you're only about 20% right because that's how much this book actually focuses on that element of the plot.
No matter what tools she might pack, no matter what household objects might be used as a weapon, she knows that the blindfolds are their strongest protection.
— "Bird Box" - Josh Malerman
Pro: The Backstory Is More Interesting
So even though the "plot" is supposed to be about Malorie's journey to the refugee camp, that's really only about 20% of the novel and the other 80% is about everything that leads her to that moment. The book heavily focuses on before the children were born while she was pregnant and the world just started turning into the wasteland it becomes.
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One might think, well, that doesn't sound nearly as interesting and I think that might be why the author wrote about her travels up-river, but you couldn't be more wrong. I hated it when she was thinking about the present day and was so much more engaged in the past!
Pro: Relatable Characters
Every character you meet in this novel I would classify as "nothing remarkable." They are all average people who ended up in the same places relatively within the same time—with the same horrifying problem and each dealing with it in their own fashion. As the reader follows along, you can understand each character's motivations simply and connect with them as if they are an everyday figure in your own life.
Pro: It's Creepy
Bird Box is not for the faint of heart. It's creepy and dark and most certainly does not beat around the bush. Honestly, there were many moments while I was reading when the author either casually described something with the use of characters' memories or flat out stated details of things happening to characters that made my jaw drop. There were events so dark I read it twice just to be certain that I actually absorbed that correctly.
I read many genres and when it comes to thrillers, as a reader I want those moments of utter disorientation. This book did this for me without hesitation! Josh Malerman has no shame.
Con: Abrupt Ending
The ending leaves a little something to be desired. This novel is fast-paced and blunt, and the ending is no exception to this. This is a con for me, but only just a little bit. I didn't care for much more information at the end, but something does feel a little incomplete. By no means do I feel the ending ruined the book or makes it not worth the read, but I honestly didn't want to put Bird Box down, so more content would have been greatly appreciated.
Whatever they are, our minds can't understand them. They're like infinity, it seems. Something to complex for us to comprehend.
— "Bird Box"-Josh Malerman
Movie vs. Book
Most people know the age-old saying "the book is always better than the movie" and Bird Box is no exception. Some book-to-movie adaptations at least try to keep the plot similar, but in my personal opinion, the only similarity between the two is the blindfolds. The movie focuses more on trying to make the plot exciting rather than psychologically thrilling.
My advice is to read the book first, and if you have already seen Bird Box, read it anyways because it's way better.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.