When a new life has just started blooming inside Malorie, people are attempting suicide all over the world in unusual numbers. Television, radio, social media are crowded with the news of the ‘creatures’ – a mere sight of which are making people insane, killing others and themselves in a matter of a few seconds. And that is how the apocalypse begins.
‘Bird Box’ by Josh Malerman was first published in the UK by Harper Voyage on the 27th of March and in the US by Ecco Press on the 13th of May, 2014.
The novel is divided into two simultaneous timelines – one where Malorie crosses a river alone with two 4 year olds, all of them blindfolded; and the other of her life in the survival camp with the strangers.
When Malorie’s sister, Shannon kills herself and the full horror of the situation sets in, Malorie moves in with six other strangers in a kind of a survival camp and promises herself to ‘live by the fold’ (blindfold).The windows are painted black and boarded up, black blindfold and a rope tied to the waist for a simple 15 step journey to the well.
Here, she meets Tom, whose words of wisdom will guide her for years to come and Gary, whose dark shadow will forever seem to follow Malorie. When at the end of her pregnancy term, another disaster hits and the home fills with the stench of death and decay, Malorie finds herself alone with two new borns , and call to a safer place.
Malorie spends years trying to take the decision to move and to train her children to close their eyes and sharpen their ears. Every time the infants woke up and opened their eyes, Malorie would hit them with a flyswatter, and everytime they kept their eyes closed, they would be rewarded with their mother’s milk. At 3 years of age, the children could decipher their mother’s emotions just by listening to her breathing from across the floor.
Sailing through the river blindfolded, every sound that the children’s ears registered, a bird’s chirp or an animal stepping on dry leaves in the sarrounding woods are sure to make the reader gasp out loud. Though these gasps and jumps are very frequent throughout the book, it never once gets repetitive. In fact, the elements of horror keep increasing.
But some of the details like when everyone is scared that the water is contaminated, they test it out by one of them volunteering to drink the water in a locked room to see if they go mad, but no one ever thinks of boiling the water. The everyday details were kind of filled in a haste.
Like any good thriller, the book has a very urgent pace. The beginning of the apocalypse has been considered carefully so as the build up is just perfect.
First universal Studios and later Netflix bought the copyrights of Bird Box and released the movie under the same name in 2018 starring Sandra Bullocks.
Soon after the movie was released, a wave of the bird box challenge rose when Netflix partnered with some Twitch streamers who would play some popular video games while blindfolded. Soon people around the world took up the bird box challenge attempting daily house hold chores while blindfolded leading to some serious injuries. Netflix then advertised messages not to attempt the bird box challenge unsupervised.
Whether you’ve already watched the movie or not, I would definitely recommend you to read the book and imagine for yourself a mother holding her two little children in a decaying world.
Read the review of the sequel of Bird Box, Malorie here: REVIEW : ‘MALORIE’ BY JOSH MALERMAN