If you’re based in the U.S., you’re well aware that we’re heading into a magical time of year. A season where the leaves are set on fire, the bonfire smoke curls through the air, and pumpkins litter our doorsteps. I’m talking autumn. A season for haunted houses, horror movies, and scary books!
So I might’ve jumped the gun, but I’ve heard a lot of hype about how creepy Josh Malerman’s Bird Box was supposed to be. Let me say this much: it lives up to the hype.
Summary: The world has entered some kind of strange apocalypse. Suddenly, people go violently mad and attack themselves or others. Rumor has it that, right before the insanity set in, these people saw something that caused their minds to break. Malorie, pregnant and alone, is thrust into a struggle for safety in a dying world. Her housemates board up the windows, barricade themselves inside, and use blindfolds should they need to step outside. As Malorie faces the phenomenon of natural birth, the unseen madness descends around them.
- Malorie and her friends are terrorized by something they can’t see. Imagine when you were a kid in your dark bedroom and you though there might be a monster in your closet. Think of the growing fear in the pit of your stomach as you either closed your eyes or stared into the darkness, trying desperately to convince yourself that it was only in your mind. Bird Box is this feeling spread out over 260 pages.
- Malerman is able to scare the hell out of us without even telling us what we’re scared of. He keeps us in a claustrophobic box of limited senses. Dread and curiosity intermingle, and what the characters experience is exactly how we experience it, which is so amazing and authentic.
- The open ending has a time and a place, and Bird Box is exactly the time and place. Without spoiling anything, we are never given more intel than the characters. The openness of the conclusion is challenging and frustrating; it’s really hard to accept what feels like a non-ending, but oh, boy, is it fair.
- The book is brief, at around 260 pages depending on your edition. I can imagine that a scary book where they could never reveal, at least in physical terms, what the scary monster was, would not be successful if it were long and drawn out. Malerman continually provides just enough for the reader to have a sense of dread and a grasp on the story. If he drew this book out to a longer page count, I think that the fear of each moment would be dulled. I’m it’s current bite-size state, it is way more impactful.
For Those Who Liked:
- The Grip of It – Jac Jemc
- The Happening (film)
- A Quiet Place (film)
Also, in December, you’ll be able to catch a film adaption on Netflix of Bird Box, featuring Sandra Bullock!
What’s your favorite scary story?