Bird Box is proof that you don’t need to be inventive to be creative and thrilling. There is nothing new in this novel that hasn’t been introduced by someone else, and yet it’s a phenomenal and magical combination of a whole pile of often-used ingredients. It’s haunting, and tense, and violent, and touching.
Without dropping too many spoilers, I’ll say that this is the story of a young woman who survives a world-ending event along with a handful of strangers who find themselves tied to one another by the circumstances of their survival. There are terrible monsters, danger from without and within, some pregnancies, and of course, lots of cabin fever, starvation, and travel.
It’s a really engaging narrative, though I will say that the pregnancy stuff felt the least sympathetic to me; it was in those moments that I was most aware that the female narrator was being voiced by a male author. That said, it wasn’t overly distracting, and fit really well in the world Malerman creates for the novel.
The narrative jumps back and forth in time, telling the “current” events, many years since the Big Event, and the story of how our hero, Malorie got where she is now. More than anything, my biggest impression was of her strength of character. She is a reluctant hero, but nevertheless steps up in circumstances in which the choice is or die. She never gives up, in spite of the pain, fear, and trauma. She would never consider herself a hero, but from where I sat reading her story, she was a damn fine role model for the apocalypse.