Technically, I finished this book about an hour before the calendar ticked over to 2020, but it still counts to CBR12! The fact that I was reading that late on NYE gives you an insight into the intensity of this book. I simply couldn’t put it down as it reached it’s crescendo.
Bird Box is a psychological paranormal thriller about the end of the world, told through the eyes and ears of Malorie – a women holding it all together for the sake of those who rely on her.
As with many people, I watched the Netflix movie adaptation last year. There are distinct differences between the two mediums which work well for each version. The Netflix movie changes the timeline of Malorie’s pregnancy, alters the longevity of some characters’ arcs, and heightens the tension by slightly changing the ‘rules’ of the villain/s. These smart changes translate well to the screen, and I appreciated the creative differences between the book and the movie.
In the book, the horrors facing humanity in Bird Box align with the beginning of Malorie’s unexpected pregnancy. As Malorie’s pregnancy progresses and she loses more and more bodily control and autonomy, the world continues to descend into mayhem and chaos. Starting in Russia (naturally), reports spread of a mysterious presence which sends a person into a homicidal and suicidal death spiral as soon as they lay eyes on it. Are they alien visitors? Supernatural beings? Man-made? These questions are never answered. By keeping the mystery alive, the tension in the book is allowed to increase as the threat spreads to the USA and Malorie’s pregnancy steadily progresses.
As Malorie and two 4 year old children (referred to by Malorie as ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ respectively) make their way downriver on a boat towards supposed safety in ‘present day’, Malorie recounts the first nine months of chaos as the world descended into madness in flashbacks. The present-day treacherous journey down the river is made blindfolded, as are all outdoor activities. The tension of these parallel story-lines is transfixing.
When compared with out similar stories (‘The Happening’ movie and Stephen King’s ‘Cell’ novel), I would definitely place Bird Box in first place. It is tight, intense, and leaves the right questions unanswered.
If you enjoyed the Netflix movie, I can highly recommend the book. My only qualm is the stupid title which really has little to do with the plot, unless Malerman was using ‘bird’ as a reference to ‘woman’…? As in, Malorie is a women who was boxed in by both the chaos around her and the responsibility of motherhood…? I think that’s a stretch though. If I were Malerman, I would have called it ‘The Folds’ or similar.
4 chaffing blindfolds out of 5.