By: Josh Malerman
Horror for me often falls into two categories. The stuff that’s fun when you’re reading/watching it. That does scare you and leave you going oh gross, no, no. Run away! But doesn’t really leave an impact. And the stuff that gets under your skin leaves you unsettled and checking under your bed.
For me Bird Box is the first category. Fun and effective with what might be the most crazy horrible birth scene ever. But there was no checking for monsters.
Bird Box is about a young woman named Malorie who finds out she’s pregnant just as the world is going to shit. Something is happening to people and when they see… something in the sky they go mad. Basically deadly suicidally eating people’s faces off kind of mad.
So we’re losing our ability to see.
The book is actually told in two time periods. From Malorie taking refugee in a house with a bunch of strangers to current time (4 years later) where Malorie and the kids are leaving the house for the first time in order to attempt to make it down the river to what she’s hoping is a community.
So it’s an apocalyptic survival story in which we are for the most part blind. There are all kinds of theories about what’s causing it but no real answers- cause we can’t look. If you open your house to help someone with your eyes closed a “creature” could get in with them and you’re screwed regardless.
Bird Box is a fascinating book in that regard. There’s some really harrowing scenes Malerman describes as well everything from trying to get well water and wondering whats out there with you making those noises to Malorie considering blinding the children. The “blind” scenes are really well-written. From the loss of sight to the desperate desire and pull to open your eyes, especially when you’re in danger, to the prickling and building of the other senses taking over.
There are also… dogs. Now I have a thing about animals being injured and when the dogs show up in the past but not the present I spent entirely too much time thinking okay, please just get it over with fast. To Malerman’s credit I was intrigued enough to keep going and we don’t see two of the dogs die. Unfortunately we hear it with the main dog but I was prepared at least.
Like I said the birth scene was the best part while reading it. Although enjoyable I also thought it was a bit over the top and I’m not really sure anyone could have survived that. Sandra Bullock is filming a movie version of this for Netflix and it’s definitely one I’ll watch.
I read Malerman’s Unbury Carol which didn’t entirely work. Bird Box was stronger and he’s definitely an author I plan to keep an eye on.