Malorie is the sequel to Bird Box, which I had the pleasure of reading/reviewing in January 2020.
Spoiler Alert: Bird Box ends with the discovery of a seemingly successful safe haven, a school for the blind, which is reached by Malorie and her two six-year old children after a harrowing trip down a river, blind.
This book continues her plight, instead this time it’s a blind train rather than a blind boat.
But I’m skipping ahead. In the opening pages of Malorie, we learn that the school of the blind’s bliss was short-lived, as the creatures which drive you mad the moment you gaze upon them somehow infiltrate and it all ends in a lot of crazed stabbing and general badness.
Malorie and her two children, Tom (who she gives birth to in an unforgettable night of terror in Bird Box) and Olympia, who is birthed at the same time/place by a mother who is much less fortunate, flee the school and begin a life of isolation. They find safety at an abandoned summer camp that has plenty of canned goods and no-one else around. 10 years pass in relative peace and quiet until one day, a man claiming to be conducting a census knocks on their door. The census man is refused entry, however he leaves Malorie and her two now-teenagers with a pile of hand-written pages that introduce the isolated threesome to the rest of the world. Among the information given are stories of a society that has embraced the creatures, word of an operational ‘blind train’, and the unthinkable – the names of Malorie’s parents who are apparently alive and well.
Malorie is now faced with the impossible choice. Stay in the camp with her two increasingly restless teenagers in relative safety and obscurity, or venture north on a blind train in the hopes of finding her parents.
I thoroughly enjoyed the continuation of Malorie’s story. It was a fast paced and satisfying read. My only complaint is that Malerman attempted to write a couple chapters from the POV of each teenage child, which gave me a fleeting and unsatisfying insight into how a teenager faced with this apocalyptic reality would think and feel. Their characters, particularly Olympia’s, were just a bit under-baked and neutered, and including their POV wasn’t really necessary in my opinion.
I really loved residing in Malorie’s mind the most. She was so singularly focused on safety and ‘the rules’ that, in a cruel twist of fate, her attempts to avoid madness from the creatures was actually just driving her old-fashioned crazy. That felt utterly believable, as a few weeks of isolation makes me a bit batty but 10 years….? That’s a hell of a crazy pill to swallow.
The whole concept of the creatures feels a little bit like a metaphor for the internet. A shapeless, unknowing entity that pervades every part of life. Look at it and you might lose your mind, your essence, your life. How do you raise children in such a risky environment? How long can you keep their eyes averted? And is there ever a safe way to engage…? Perhaps I’m reading an analogy that is not there but… maybe not.
Overall, 4 folds out of 5. A very satisfying end to my 2021 CBR!