Bird Box by Josh Malerman

​I’m not one to mince my words, so here it is: This book scared the fucking shit out of me. I’m pretty easy to scare, but Bird Box is absolutely terrifying.  

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

I love a good post-apocalyptic yarn, but this is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Told by Malorie, we see the world fall into disarray with the introduction of some unknown creatures. Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they want? Fuck knows, but for the love of Christ, don’t look at them. Anyone who looks at them goes instantly mad, and usually ends up killing themselves. 

Malorie discovers she’s pregnant just as everything starts to go to shit. Suddenly alone, she answers an advert looking for other survivors, and makes her way there. She joins a ragtag group of survivors, scrabbling around in a house, trying to make it from one day to the next. The narrative switches to four years later, where Malorie is alone with two children, desperate to find somewhere better. There is a place, down the river, outside in the world. And all she has to do is open her eyes. 

The characters are blindfolded for most of the book, and their terror is palpable. It infected me. I grabbed some reading time before work this morning, and glanced up as something caught my eye. I looked out of the window, and was suddenly terrified that I would now go mad. Just living in that constant fear would send me insane. I couldn’t hack it. Let’s just hope that Malerman has a sick imagination, and cannot predict the future. Because if he can, we’re fucked.



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