Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box (Bird Box, #1)

I was introduced to this book when the movie came out 2018, starring Sandra Bullock. I heard the movie was really good and after watching an analysis of the film, I decided to pick up this book to read it myself. Because let’s face it, I rarely watch movies and read lots of books.

However, I found by the end of this book, I had pretty mixed feelings about it, which may be an unpopular opinion because most people seem to have loved it.

Release: 2014

Synopsis: Imagine if strange creatures appear on earth, who if you looked at caused you to kill yourself. Only by being blind could you truly survive. This is the world that pregnant Malorie finds herself in, as this story flips from the day this terrifying apocalypse begins to five years later as she and two children attempt to travel down a dangerous river blindfolded, in search of a new life.

Review

There are so many books about different apocalypses, each trying to be more unique than the next. And in the uniqueness of the apocalypse, I liked this book. The theme of seeing makes you evil is prominent, either you kill yourself or are consumed by evil. However, in many ways I didn’t agree with the hype of this book. Most of it is very boring and the constant shifts in timeline left me often confused of what was happening when. Some of the main characters, such as Tom and Malorie, were interesting, but most of the others felt as if they were tools for the story (another pregnant woman, a man to tear the group apart, etc.). They didn’t really feel like people themselves.

It seems like I have an unpopular opinion for this book, because most reviews I read for it are mostly, if not entirely, positive. But it really missed the mark for me.

So it’s broken into two storylines about five years apart. The first is when Malorie finds out she is pregnant and the apocalypse hits, where people see something and go mad, either committing murder and then suicide or just killing themselves. Everyone learns to board up their windows and she eventually has to leave home to find safety, finding a household of other survivors. The second storyline is five years later, when Malorie is alone with her child and the child of another woman, trying to go down a river to find a new home.

I won’t say I disliked either plotline, though each felt too slow-moving. However, what I disliked most is that the two timelines didn’t blend well. It didn’t feel seamless and instead made the book feel disjointed. I would have preferred the book maybe starting at the river, but then flashing back to the beginning and moving forward. All the jumps just annoyed me.

The apocalypse world, however, was the best part of the book. I loved the scenes where they had to accomplish seemingly easy tasks (like searching a house), which were made incredibly difficult because they had to wear blindfolds all the time. I found that this naturally added tension to otherwise boring character goals. However, for me, good individual scenes aren’t enough to save the book.

We didn’t actually find out much about the creatures themselves. The first sighting may have been in Alaska or Russia, though it’s not made certain, and seems to spread incredibly fast. This begs the question of where did these creatures come from and what motivates them? Are they purely evil? Or act on instinct? Or do they have a different goal? Did they come from the underground or are they aliens from another planet? I just felt like I knew nothing about the creatures by the end that I didn’t know fifty pages in.

Finally, as I said earlier, the characters are defined mostly by their roles. They didn’t feel like each individual people with different thoughts and beliefs and goals. They were also defined by their situations. Malorie was always doing something in reaction to her brutal world, and I never felt like she really stood outside of her world. Saying that, she was strong and didn’t let the cruel world defeat her, but that wasn’t enough for me to really understand her.

I won’t say I hated this book. It was okay, but I won’t be bragging about its excellent story or characters any time soon.

Have you read this book, or watching the movie adaptation? Did you like it? Also, if you didn’t read/watch it, does it look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

  1. A great, insightful review. I really enjoyed it. I have not read the book or seen the movie, but the plot of it actually reminds me strongly of the movie “A Quiet Place” (2018). In that film, there are blind extra-terrestrial creatures in post-apocalyptic world that hunt humans who must not make any sound otherwise they are killed. So happens, there is also one pregnant woman there.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a sci-fi, not based on real life. Acting is just great!! The actors have great chemistry, the ending does get a bit ridiculous, but the soundtrack is amazing as well! I watched it a 2nd time right away!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It just seems all the bad reviews came from people who couldn’t get over the fact that it was just pretend… like, it wasn’t “believable”. So I didn’t get that at all. I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention to all the movie reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m one of those people who didn’t like this book. I found irritating the main character, and one of the timelines is a spoiler of the other. I was curious about the creatures, but I was left without answers. My dad has watched the movie first, and then I gave him the book. He hated it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed with this book! I won’t say I found the main character super irritating, I just didn’t like her. And, like you, I wanted to know more about the creatures.

      Liked by 1 person

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