Happy Sunday readers, I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  For tonight’s blog post, I will be reviewing Birdbox by Josh Malerman.  I think I might be the only person who hasn’t watched the Netflix original adaptation of this, but I really wanted to read the book first (plus I have a rather demanding Toddler so very limited TV time that doesn’t involve cartoon princesses and singalongs).  I will hopefully get watching it this week, but if it is even half as good as this book then I know I am in for a treat.

birdboxFor those of you unfamiliar with Birdbox (have you been living under a rock or something?) the premise is this: A phenomenon is sweeping across the globe where people are going crazy, killing themselves and sometimes others too.  No one knows what is causing this, just that the victims always saw something before it happened. The book moves between the very pregnant Malorie and a rag tag group of survivors in the past, to the present where her and her two children battle their way upriver in the hopes of finding safety from these unknown creatures, the wild animals which have now inherited the earth from man and worse, the crazed people driven homicidally mad by what they have seen.  Sounds awesome right?

I absolutely loved this book, I really did.  The premise is fantastic, the characters are all well developed and believable and the tension and horror is very real.  I love that we as the reader never really find out what’s going on.  Are these creatures from another world or dimension?  Do they mean to cause us harm or are they inadvertently causing this carnage?  There are a few theories shared within the book, my favourite being that these creatures are so unfathomably different from ourselves that our tiny human brains simply cannot comprehend it and promptly go nuts at the slightest glimpse.  Whatever is happening, the creatures are never described which means that whatever they are is left entirely to our own imagination (in mine, they are like a creature shaped void of nothingness, walking black holes in our world, but that’s just me).  But the creatures are by no means the scariest part of this book, as it’s the reaction of the humans to the phenomena that offers the books creepiest moments.  Remember, our characters are literally blind folded, so the mere crack of a tree branch is enough to cause total panic.  Then there are the characters who are driven a different kind of mad by the creatures and the situation at large.  They don’t flip out and immediately kill themselves like most, but slowly go insane, hurting their fellow survivors.  I don’t want to have any spoilers but when things go bad, they really go South fast and it is here we see this maniacal, creepy lunacy played out in full bloody horror.

I really enjoyed the movement from past to present, it kept me hooked, maintained the tension throughout and made me desperate to find out what happened.  I had one of those ‘just one more chapter’ moments resulting in me staying up way past my bed time and suffering for it the following day (it was totally worth it though).

I love Malorie.  As a mother, I recognise that need to keep your children safe at all costs, that guttural feeling inside that says above all else, to protect.  At it’s core, this book is about survival.  It is about the good side and the bad side of humanity when faced with unimaginable horror.  It is about a mother determined to protect her children.  It is about man kind clinging to a world that is no longer theirs, refusing to lie down and give up despite insurmountable odds.  It’s pretty inspiring actually and has had me thinking at length about what I would do if, God forbid, such a thing ever happened for real.  I can’t imagine I would last too long, but I know I would do whatever I could to protect my own daughter, just like our protagonist.

It’s a slow burner, dotted with enough moments of peril and action to pull you along at a good pace to that big and bloody finale.  It’s a tense read and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.  I have to give this one full marks with five stars out of five!

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

    1. I really related to her! Everything is so awful to the point that she questions whether she’s even doing the right thing, keeping them alive in this terrible world but it a her driving force, to protect her babies! She’s kind of badass

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  1. Great review! and I love that photo with the phone replicating the cover (I have to ask – IS the phone plot-related? from what I vaguely know of the plot, I don’t remember it playing a role, so I’m curious why it’s on the cover).
    I haven’t read this or watched the movie, but I remember coming across some discourse on the problematic decision to make people with mental illness the ones that react differently to the creatures and actively sabotaging fellow survivors and trying to kill them. I don’t feel great about that? the stats show that people suffering mental illness are more likely to hurt THEMSELVES rather than others, so it demonizes a vulnerable group for no reason. but I guess a horror book/movie has no reason to reflect reality when it’s about invisible creatures from another dimension causing the apocalypse!

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it! The phone does indeed play an integral part in the plot. The survivors have access to a working phone and phone every number in the phone book hoping to find other survivors, a tactic which eventually pays off!

      Yes the creatures, whatever they are, cause people to lose their minds at the mere sight of them but some people react differently and rather than killing themselves become more of a danger to other survivors but it’s never made clear why that is exactly. It makes sense that people with different brain chemistry perhaps due to mental illness or even something like epilepsy, would react differently. People hypothesize that those who are already crazy would not go crazy because of the creatures if that makes sense, but the impression I got was that these people were already inclined towards violence in some way so it wouldn’t be the same for every one just because they have a mental illness. I think it’s dependant on the type of illness and indeed the type of individual. But then none of this is clarified or explained because in real life how could it be? Everything has gone to pot! I suffer from mental health issues myself and it didn’t bother me!

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      1. thanks for your very detailed response! I’m a nosy parker so I love to find out as much as I can, but this seems a bit too much for me to actually read or watch, haha, so I’m grateful that you’ve satisfied my curiosity on the point of the phone!

        if people who were already prone to violence or sadism were the ones that tried to kill the others instead of themselves, I’d be on board with that, but it was just a weird message that it was only people with mental illness that were the bad guys. I guess it does sort of track with the notion of the creatures affecting people with different brain chemistry in different ways if you squint at it sideways!

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  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it, I thought it was brilliant!
    Marlerman is a master of suspense, I can’t wait for his new book Inspection to be released on the 19th March!!! 😀

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  3. Fantastic review! I am so pleased that the monsters are left to the imagination as it is so much creepier that way. We all imagine our own worst nightmares. You are not the only one who hasn’t seen the Netflix version! I wanted to wait to read the book first too and you have made me very glad I have waited.

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