Fiction/Literature

Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman

Bird Box – Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Video review: Bird Box

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Read Book Summary

Josh Malerman’s novel “Bird Box” begins with Malorie inspecting her stomach. She and her sister Shannon find out that Malorie, in her early 20’s, is pregnant. Alongside this discovery, a wave of news reports comes about strange occurrences of murder-suicides. As these incidents spread, the sisters cloister themselves in their apartment in the hope of surviving the end of the world. Soon, people identify that the way that creatures affect humans is through sight. With this discovery, people lock themselves in their houses an

d blindfold their eyes when they must go outside. 3 months after the outbreak, Shannon kills herself in the bathroom after accidentally seeing a creature. Distraught, the pregnant Malorie answers an old advertisement in the newspaper about a safe place. There, she meets Tom, Jules, Cheryl, Don, and Felix who live in the house. The housemates accept Malorie into their home.

Soon after, another, equally pregnant woman named Olympia arrives at the house and after her, a man named Gary knocks on the door. Since the house is full, the group debates whether to allow Gary into the home. After a vote in which Malorie broke the split, they allow Gary into the home. He tells the group of how a crazy man named Frank in his old house pulled the blinds down because he believed the creatures could not affect him. As time passes and the women near their ninth month, Gary begins to convince Don of Frank’s logic. Slowly, a divide forms in the group between Don and Gary and the others.

Suspicious of Gary, Malorie sneaks into his room and finds Frank’s notebook, the book in which he wrote of his beliefs. When Malorie brings this evidence to the group, the others vote Gary out of the house over Don’s protestations. On a stormy night, the 2 women enter labor at the same time. Tom and the others scramble to help the women deliver their babies in the attic, the safest room in the house. While Malorie gives birth, she hears Don and the others fighting below. Terrified, she shouts for them, but they do not tell her what is going on below. Soon, she and Olympia hear screams from below then Gary enters the attic.

Malorie realizes that there never was a Frank and that Gary had been lying to them all from the beginning. Gary tells her that Don pulled down the blinds and opened the doors to let the creatures inside because Gary convinced him that the creatures only harm people who expect to be harmed. After a while, the screaming subsides and Gary opens the attic door to let a creature inside. Malorie, covering the eyes of her baby boy and Olympia’s baby girl, closes her own eyes until the creature and Gary leave the attic. The telephone rings for the first time in Malorie’s time in the house. She answers a man named Rick who tells her that Tom called him and that he has a shelter just down the river from Malorie’s house. He tells Malorie she is welcome if ever she wishes to come and live with them.

After she buries the bodies of every single housemate, Malorie and the children spend 4 more years in the house alone. She trains the boy and girl everyday in order to improve their hearing. Soon, the two are able to hear and identify sounds from other streets. With their ability, Malorie hopes to be able to respond to Rick’s offer and travel down the river in a rowboat. After 4 years of training the children, Malorie sets off in the rowboat with her boy and Olympia’s girl. After encountering a deranged man, a pack of wolves, and a flock of warring birds, the 3 make it to the shelter where Rick welcomes them. Finally about to feel safe, Malorie sees that some of the inhabitants of the shelter are blinded. She cries and asks Rick not to blind her babies, but he responds that they do not blind themselves anymore. Reassured, Malorie introduces the boy as Tom and the girl as Olympia then the novel ends.

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Read Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Malorie, a young mother of two children known simply as Boy and Girl, is a survivor living in a postapocalyptic world, raising her children to use all their senses, especially their listening skills, as sight is not an option here. In this world, the survivors struggle to stay alive by living indoors with all the windows boarded up. The sight of whatever is outside is causing people to become violent murderers, as well as suicidal, in the most horrific ways possible. The book moves back and forth over a four-year period when all the insanity began, exploring the personalities of the people that came together and survived and how they managed to live after all forms of communication effectively withered and died with most of the population. The characters are involving, the story moves along very rapidly as the suspense builds, but unfortunately, the ending is a disappointment. The reason for all the bloodshed is never explored or explained. Still, recommend this one to readers who enjoy a blend of horror and postapocalyptic fiction. –Stacy Alesi

Review

“A book that demands to be read in a single sitting, and through the cracks between one’s fingers. There has never been a horror story quite like this. Josh Malerman truly delivers.” (—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool)

“This completely compelling novel contains a thousand subtle touches but no mere flourishes-it is so well, so efficiently, so directly written I read it with real admiration. Josh Malerman does the job like a fast-talking, wised-up angel.” -Peter Straub (—Peter Straub)

“[A] chilling debut… Malerman…keeps us tinglingly on edge with his cool, merciless storytelling [and] douses his tale in poetic gloom….An unsettling thriller, this earns comparisons to Hitchcock’s The Birds, as well as the finer efforts of Stephen King and cult sci-fi fantasist Jonathan Carroll.” (—Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“The author uses understatement and allusion to create a lean, spellbinding thriller that Stephen King fans will relish.” (—Publishers Weekly (starred review))

From the Back Cover

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but Malorie’s wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

About the Author

Josh Malermanis the acclaimed author of Bird Box, as well as the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The High Strung. He lives in Michigan.

Originally published: 27 March 2014

AuthorJosh Malerman

Pages: 273 pages

ISBN: 0062259652

NominationsGoodreads Choice Awards Best Horror

Genres: Horror fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Doomsday

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