- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager (27 March 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007529872
- ISBN-13: 978-0007529872
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.9 x 24 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 621 g
- Customer Reviews: 3,094 customer ratings
Bird Box: The bestselling psychological thriller, now a major film Hardcover – 27 March 2014
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‘BIRD BOX turns the old Hollywood cliché of facing down the demon inside out – then tears it into little pieces’
‘A book that demands to be read in a single sitting, and through the cracks between one's fingers'
‘A lean, spellbinding thriller that Stephen King fans will relish.’
Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
‘You wonder whether that brush against your shoulder was some unspeakable horror or merely a falling leaf’
‘This completely compelling novel contains a thousand subtle touches but no mere flourishes – it is so well, so efficiently, so directly written I read it with real admiration’
‘Nailbiting … will keep you gripped till the last chapter’
'Unflagging suspense and ever-present dread’
'Uniquely disturbing, exceptionally compelling and beautifully written, I defy anyone not to read it in one sitting'
‘An unsettling thriller, earns comparisons to Hitchcock's The Birds, as well as the finer efforts of Stephen King and cult sci-fi fantasist Jonathan Carroll.’
– Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)
About the Author
Josh Malerman is the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The High Strung. He lives in Ferndale, Michigan.
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Any lingering thoughts that Bird Box would be a disappointment were soon to flee the nest. The opening chapter sucked me right in with its desperately grim and dark outlook. The world is seemingly in chaos, something outside is causing people to go crazy, making them attack each other and behave like savages. Friends become enemies, families tear each other apart, even the animals are going insane, It’s scary stuff. The book opens in fantastic style raising many questions. Why can’t Malorie open her eyes? What is outside? Why are the children also blindfolded? Many, many more questions, dear reader, most of which are answered.
Whilst the book has an apocalyptic tone, the setting is quite small. There are two timelines presented and both are equally as engaging. One timeline follows Malorie and her trip down the river with her blindfolded children, the other is a look at the past and her time spent with a small group of survivors. The pacing of this novel is excellent, and though some of the characters aren’t perhaps the most fully realised, there is so much going on, it actually didn’t hinder my enjoyment, and there are certainly times when you will question who the real monsters are.
I believe the best horror stories leave much to the imagination and contain a certain ambiguity. Bird Box‘s strength lies in the fact that you are never quite sure what exactly is out there and for me, the greatest fear of all is the fear of the unknown. Malerman knows this and he uses it expertly to propel Bird Box into terrifying waters, delivering scenes of unbelievable tension and horror as Malorie and friends stumble around struggling to make sense of what is happening whilst still trying to carry out the simplest of tasks in order to survive. Nothing is ever simple or straightforward when one cannot see, even a trip outside to a well to retrieve water is a harrowing, daunting experience, especially when you can only rely upon your ears to inform you of what is going on. Throughout the book, there are numerous chapters where the tension is almost unbearable for the reader. Bird Box is a masterclass in building suspense, it’s a book dripping with paranoia and not a chapter goes by without something happening.
Final thoughts: Bird Box is a wonderful book. I’m kind of gutted I left it this long before I read it. If you haven’t read it, don’t make the same mistake I did, go get a copy NOW!
5/5 dirty blindfolds from the Grim Reader
I am so glad I did. Yes, there's a lot of hype about this book/movie but it is well deserved. Very easy to read and it kept my attention so well that I read it in one sitting. It was very worth it.
I enjoyed the film, and expected the book to be better, as usual, but didn’t expect the depth and darkness, as Malorie almost descends into madness herself.
The unseen entities are way more frightening, as we are only informed by Malorie’s diffuse senses and internal struggles. A genius way to tell the story.
Highly recommend to anyone that enjoys horror, sci-fi, and psychological thrillers.
Highly recommend reading at night, alone.
Top international reviews
Bird Box is a dystopian novel set in an apocalyptical setting where people see creatures and go mad, ultimately dying and sometimes taking others with them. The story of the protagonist is set in two time points - when everything goes wrong and she needs to seek refuge, and the current time, where she is having to find a new place with two children.
It is spooky and creepy. At one point I was reading it in the dark and something fell off my bed, and I have to confess to absolutely jumping out of my skin. I found the book hard to put down because I felt like it was all building up to something.
And then - nothing. A total cliche of an ending. You never get to find out what was out there. It's just some creature. Everyone has to live without looking outside and that's that, end of story. They find a new refuge and carry on.
It did grip me but totally fell flat. I'll not be rushing to watch the movie adaptation unfortunately.
Come to this book with the right expectations. It's going to be a quick read. There are going to be moments that niggle with inconsistency. The writing won't set you alight with poetic brilliance. But I can almost guarantee you this: you will be creeped out. You might even be scared. Like me, you might have nightmares, and you might jump at tiny out-of-place sounds. Bask in these rare qualities and enjoy them.
From the blurb alone I may not have ever picked this up, but the reviews from some of my favourite reviewers convinced me to give this a go. And I adored it.
This had me completely gripped throughout. When I wasn’t reading it, I kept thinking about it. This completely got in my head, as a horror/thriller should. It even made me rather paranoid at night.
Josh Malerman’s writing was fantastic and I can’t wait to read more from him.
People scared, people hearing sounds, people scared, people hearing sounds, nothing happening. About half way though I got so bored reading the same thing over and over again that I skipped to the last chapter. I can tell you that it really wasn’t worth reading - still nothing happened. I’ve given it two stars for the first part of the book which was interesting, before it become boring and repetitive. I’m sure this book could have been condensed to a quarter of what it is.
In an apocalyptic alternative reality, an abstract thing inhabits our planet; a demonic indescribable entity that if gazed upon, will send a human being to his or her death.
Malorie, our beleaguered heroine, has no option but to embark on a twenty-mile river trip to possible safety, blindfolded and in a small rowing boat. To make matters worse, she has two small children on board who are also blindfolded. The kids, used to living life under instruction, never complain. They just do what they’re told. Kept in the dark for much of their young lives, the children’s hearing is acute and so the river becomes their amphitheatre.
And this is where the book knocks spots off the movie. The book’s raison d’être (that humans must not see in order to survive) is compromised in movie format because we, the viewer, can see, and so the fear of the unknown becomes diluted. Sound becomes so much a part of the book's DNA that I was almost listening to the pages!
Though not usually a lover of lean prose and meagre character development, this book kept me in its thrall. And hats off to the author for imagining such an original and terrifying premise.
Look, it has its inconsistencies, but the story was fraught, sensory and claustrophobic. I applaud John Malerman for hitting the ground running with a nail-biting debut thriller and I dearly wish I hadn’t seen the movie first.
This book is a harsh reminder that sometimes things we can’t see are scarier than the things we can see.
Bird Box takes place after an eerie phenomenon begins to occur on a global scale. People begin to see something and then they kill themselves. No one knows what this ‘something’ is as no one has survived seeing it. People begin boarding up their windows, blackening their windshields and staying away from other people. There is no way of knowing what this ‘something’ wants, where it came from, what form it takes, or what the future of humanity will be.
Our main character is Malorie. We flick between 2 time frames as we learn how Malorie heard and dealt with this crisis and then also where she is now and trying to save her children. From the time of her children's birth, Malorie has been training them on how to survive in this world. She has making them wear blindfolds outside and putting them through rigorous tests to train them until they have the preternatural hearing of bats. All this preparation is for the day they will finally leave the house and try to find others, to find a safer place to live.
The storyline and tension builds up and just when you get to a critical point, we switch back to the other time and build the momentum again. The writing and pace is good and easy to follow. There are only a few characters but each has their role to play. There are many shocking things that happen and things that people do when they are put in this situation.
People start to group together and the dynamic of having a house full of refugees in the back story will feel familiar. Who to let in, or not, concerns over sharing limited resources, discussions over what adventuresome risks might or might not be worth taking re looking toward the future, or in trying to learn more about the cause of their situation. This was all very interested and many situations in real-life can relate to this.
I enjoyed this book but didn’t love it. Some parts were slow and some of the characters are a bit vague and don’t really have a presence. This book could have been a bit shorter but the storyline was gripping.
There really isn't much I can say that isn't already known about the central storyline and I don't want to give away any of the plot. What I would say though is this - I came across this book as a result of the Netflix Film as I am sure many people are also doing now. I read the book before I watched the film, my sister watched the film before she read the book. Either way it doesn't matter because the film and the book are chalk and cheese. Needless to say the book is 100% better than the film as is so often the case. In this case I would say maddeningly so - I can never understand how some authors are so cash hungry that they are willing to allow their work to be completely annihilated for the small screen and the mind boggles as to why the writers/director of the film thought it was such a good idea to mess with the book so much.. Anyway, apart from that little rant, I only have good things to say about this book and I am currently on a mission to get all of my family and friends to read this instead of watching the far inferior film version. READ THIS BOOK!!!
It is I think a great new dystopian idea - don’t look or you will die! This in itself leaves the reader with a myriad of questions! What is it?! The writing is excellent, a relaxed easy style of writing that flows nicely and that manages to make you genuinely feel something - to care for the characters and to feel the fear with them and for them. The characters in the book are nicely developed, especially the main character Malorie, a harsh person but a survivor. They all come across as pretty fallible people, it feels like an honest portrayal of how we would/could behave in this environment. As such I liked all the characters, the good and the bad equally, all well written and had some depth. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next for a good deal of the time reading this book. The ending was not what I thought it would be but it was good, brought to a satisfying conclusion.
Overall a well thought out book, very dark so not for the lighthearted, I love dystopian futures and this does not disappoint - a truly riveting read! No question this deserves a solid 5*/5 for me.
The book doesn’t dwell too long on what is normal life, we all know what that is like but begins as small snippets of news filter through the network about the increase of suicides across the world, each day increasing by thousands until it reaches every town and every city in the world. It becomes clear that these people are seeing something that compels them to kill themselves.
The story begins five years in the future with Malorie and two young children setting out blindfolded in a canoe type boat heading to somewhere. Malorie edgy to say the least with the two children obeying her every instruction. There is no warmth in the relationship between them, their names are boy and girl. What becomes obvious is their heightened senses, hearing especially. The children have never seen outside if they do they will die.
The story drops back to when it all began, I can’t say you will be any wiser at the end but what a journey you will take. There isn’t a great deal of characters in the story so by the time you finish reading each one will be etched into your mind. Whatever it is that is causing this seems to gain intelligence too, adapting to new ways of getting to the ones that think they are safe.
Loved the book, really creepy with some brilliant characters in it. It really leaves you thinking about trust issues! There are some graphic scenes but it is that sort of book. Awesome reading loved the end!
The storyline whizzes backwards and forwards between a woman, Malorie, rowing a boat down a river with two 4 years old children on board and events leading up to this ‘escape’. There’s been an apocalyptic event which started in Russia and spread to other areas of the world. People who ‘see something’ kill others and then themselves- violently. The way of avoiding the something is to wear a blindfold or keep eyes closed. A house becomes a place of safety for a number of people, including Malorie. The people survive by wearing blindfolds whenever they are out of the house.
That’s it really.. Too far fetched for me even if the plot idea was a sort of dystopian look at the future. There are far too many loose ends and far too many things that are not explained, the something amongst them.( I still don’t know what it is).
Writing is quite good though.
Still, I think I was expecting to like this more than I did. The general concept was great, and I kind of both liked and disliked the vagueness with which the “creatures” or whatever were described. I was expecting some big revelation to come at the end, but again that’s because I didn’t realise there was a short story there.
There are some great bits to the book though, and I think the worldbuilding was pretty good. A great example was when a character suggested that babies should be blinded at birth so that they weren’t at risk. That also foreshadowed the ending nicely. Another big plus was the way in which parts of the story were told through the sense of sound. It helped to engage you as the reader by the senses and to make you feel as though you were really there.
I think this book is also a great example of a writer withholding information from the reader to successfully build a sense of fear and unease. As the reader, it’s easy to empathise with the characters because we can understand ourselves what they must be going through. I also think that’s why the protagonist is a woman trying to protect two children. It taps into our society’s perception of women and children as the more vulnerable members.
So all in all, it’s a pretty good post-apocalyptic novel and I enjoyed reading it, but I also don’t think it was perfect. I’d be interested to see what Mallerman comes up with next, but I also wouldn’t rush to grab a copy of it. That’s partly because of the short story that was included at the end, which made it almost feel like an indie book. In fact, I wasn’t too impressed by the quality of the paper or the overall aesthetic of my copy either, and I’m pretty sure Harper Voyager just used Lightning Source to print it.
I’m still glad that I read it though, and I’m glad that I read it before watching the movie. They were both pretty good, and they were both pretty good in their own different ways. At the same time, you won’t miss too much if you just watch the movie and don’t read the book. I’d recommend them both for what it’s worth, though, so be sure to check them out if you haven’t already.
The present storyline takes place five years after the world came undone due to the appearance of mysterious creatures (of an unknown origin) that, at the sight of them caused humans to go mad and details the harrowing twenty-mile boat trip downriver to an unknown destination (we only get to find out where she is going very late in the book) that Malorie (as well as her two young children) undertakes. On the river, outside and at the mercy of the creatures, every sound means danger and could lead to death.
In the past, the storyline starts a few months before the world goes to hell and ends roughly a few months after. Random violent acts are reported on the TV and the Internet. As the scattered acts become more common and constant rumours abound that the cause of these incidents is that people are seeing ‘something’ before they go crazy. The world starts falling apart at the seams and Malorie ends up living with a group of fellow survivors.
Fear of the unknown is the worst fear of them all and that is what we are dealing with in Bird Box. There is something malevolent out there, unidentified creatures that lurk on the fringes and wait to strike out at anyone who sees them. No-one actually knows what they are though as catching even a fleeting glimpse leads you down the road to madness and violence.
Outside, you can never open your eyes and instead, you need to rely on your other senses, hearing, smell and touch. Sight isn’t available to you as it leads to insanity. No sight, no light and the world in Bird Box is shrouded in black as you live in all-consuming darkness.
To survive, you forgo sight, hiding your eyes behind a blindfold and heightening your other senses with the aim of staying alive. Even going outside for amenities like getting water from a well is a frightening experience and a fear-filled expedition that requires preparation and safety protocols. You can’t see, you can’t look for fear of seeing a creature, you are hindered by your self-inflicted blindness and you don’t know if the creatures are miles away or mere inches away from your face.
As the main character, Malorie is one tough cookie but she doesn’t start out that way and we see her toughen up, becoming hardened by the hard world. A mother of two young children, she has spent her time alone training both herself and her two children on how to survive in the dangerous new world. Honing their ears, teaching them to listen and how to discern different noises at a distance as listening is the most important sense of them all. Malorie is the force that pulls the story along. Exuding a quiet strength with a fierce love for her nameless children, called only ‘boy‘ and ‘girl‘.
Bird Box is fairly light on the blood and gore. There are a few horrific events that occur but Malerman doesn’t go into excess detail with them. He doesn’t try for shock value tactics and glorify the acts of violence. Instead, they are used to show the terrifying effect that seeing the creatures have on humans, why it is of the utmost importance to wear a blindfold and the brutality and ever-present danger that has risen up to lay claim to the world.
There’s an easy flow to how Malerman writes with no padding, no wasted words, building tension and a sense of terror. Both timelines grab the readers attention and don’t let go. Add in short chapters that alternate between the past and the present and Bird Box is an easy book to lose yourself in. Personally, I did prefer the past story with the group of survivors. You see them trying to understand the creatures, adapting to their new way of living and their daily struggle to stay safe and survive. It painted a harsh picture of life after the creatures first appeared and showed how life and the world had irrevocably changed.
Bird Box is a short, snappy and chilling read that packs a punch and ticks all the right boxes.
I tried to go in as "blind" as possible - as fettered at least as one can be existing at the start of 2019 with several months of Bird Box pop culture memes moving into the general public zeitgeist.
And that's a long way of getting to a pretty short review.
It's very good.
The plotting is tight, the premise is great and executed brilliantly, the narrative structure works well, and the writing was inspired.
(I wrote a longer review with spoilers, and discussing the few problems I had with the book, but actually, it's a story you are better going in with as little knowledge of it as possible, and I think it is worth a read in its own right and not just on the movies success.)