Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent: they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew. Then the internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore.
Everyone and their dog, it seems, has been raving about the release of Bird Box which has broken a Netflix record of 45 million views in its first week. In fear of missing out, I headed straight to my local library (as all reading nerds do) to pick up a copy of Josh Malerman’s novel before indulging in the Netflix offering. In the words of all reading enthusiasts ‘the book is always better’ and boy is this some book!
Bird Box is set in a post-apocalyptic world where an unknown force is causing people to kill themselves by any means possible, often in unimaginably horrific ways. At first, people dismiss the news reports and laugh off the rumors but soon there are few people left and Malorie knows she needs help. Pregnant and desperately seeking refuge, Malorie takes a chance on an ad she saw in the paper and drives out to a house offering sanctuary to anyone who needs it. Here she makes both friends and enemies in a world that is seemingly going mad.
Being an avid horror film fan – the gorier the better – it takes a lot to scare me but this book is terrifying. Nobody knows what is out there causing people to take their own lives. Is it human? Is it a creature from outer space? Is it even a living entity? All we know is that as soon as you see it, your life is over. So in order to protect themselves from this unknown presence, all remaining civilians cover their windows, lock their doors and refuse to go outside without wearing a blindfold. And it is this blindness that makes the story so terrifying. As the characters move through the story in darkness, so does the reader. All our senses are heightened – smell, taste, sound. Every movement, every noise, every slight touch could be the ‘thing’ out to get you. As the characters repeatedly remind themselves to keep their eyes shut, and not to look, we, as the reader, become more and more desperate to do what is human instinct and look!
Her words are choked as she feels the thing behind her leaning in. A part of it (its face?) moves near her lips. Malorie only breathes. She does not move. The attic is silent. She can feel the warmth, the heat of the thing beside her.
At the beginning of the novel, Malorie is packing herself and her two blindfolded children into a rowboat before the plot flashes back in time five years to the events leading up to the present day situation. This dual narrative continues throughout the book as we travel back and forth in time to discover what happened to the others and why Malorie, and her two small children, appear to be the only surviving civilians. This storytelling technique is fairly popular, and often predictable, but Josh Malerman made a wise decision here as it really adds to the whole mystery vibe. We know Malorie has survived thus far and we are rooting for her until the end.
This book was awesome! Now to see if Netflix managed to pull it off.