A creepy take on the post-apocalyptic survival genre, I bought Bird Box ages ago but decided to read it now because a film version starring Sandra Bullock is coming soon to Netflix and/or cinemas (if it isn’t there already!)
So, Malorie lives alone in a house with her two children, known only as Boy and Girl. We know something awful has happened but at this stage not what, except that it requires avoiding looking outside and wearing tight blindfolds whenever leaving the house.
As the story develops we learn that around several years previously there were reports of people seeing something which immediately drove them to carry out extreme acts of violence. It started in Russia and then spread across the world (presumably); certainly to the USA. In flashbacks we learn the impact of these events on Malorie and the group that she took refuge with, how she came to be alone with the children, and her plans to finally head for safety.
I enjoyed the structure of the book which flips backwards and forwards between (I think) three timelines. I would have loved to have had lots of detail about the threat that everyone is hiding from, because I relish the build up to the end of the world in the same way that I love hard SF – I like to know how things work, what can I say. But having said that, the lack of detail actually works really well in building up tension – for example, is this actually real or some kind of global hallucination – and giving the sense that the reader knows as little about what’s happening as Malorie does. The particular details of how she ended up alone are both sad and horrifying.
What didn’t work quite so well for me was the ending. There is a clear conclusion to Malorie’s story but it left me with questions and a mild sense of dissatisfaction. However, the bulk of the book is well written and I have already got my hands on more of Josh Malerman’s books.
I am intrigued about how this is going to work as a movie, and I also now want to see A Quiet Place which seems to have a similar premise, though focussing on hearing rather than sight.