Bird Box by Josh Malerman

SYNOPSIS:

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 unravelled that will have you racing to the final page.

***

I’ve read the Romanian version of the book, Bird Box: Orbește translated by Liviu Szoke

Genre: Horror; Science Fiction – Dystopia

Page count: 352 (Romanian version), 262 (English version)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have a confession to make: *breathes deep* I am a slow reader! Yes! I know, right? Oh my God. Shock. But it is true, as stupefying as it might be (or not really).

I have always been a slow reader, not because I don’t like the book or because I don’t have enough time to read (which would be a lie because I always make time to read). Even if I am OBSESSED with the book, I would never EVER in a million years manage to read it in one sitting. I just can’t. And here’s why: I have a tendency to lose my focus after 30 minutes, because, mostly, my eyes go tired (because, yeah, I have to be the complete bookish nerd and wear glasses, because, yeah, I don’t see, but everyone can figure that part out after I said I wear glasses, moving on).  But sometimes, I just can’t be committed to something 100%, I’m not sorry. But other times I am. But boy oh boy, you know I am into a book when it’s already been 24 hours since I started reading it and I am already halfway through it. I amaze myself when I do that.

This book, this fabulous book (that made me cover my windows with some thick curtains when outside is broad daylight and forced me to double-check my desire to leave the house and also my sanity) just did that. Bird Box, you did things to my brain I didn’t know it could do. Congrats, you little biscuit!

I am going to begin with a fact: this book scared the shit out of me sometimes. It is this kind of book that uses that extra-sensorial capacity of yours of feeling something creepy breathing down your neck. Hell, it is an apocalyptic dystopian book after all, what was I expecting? Nothing but the best, right?

The way the novel is composed is a bit frustrating, because, unlike other books, the lack of details at the beginning is present throughout the narration, details being revealed later, as the plot moves on. The chapters are quite short (for which I am very grateful!) and succeed each other in a race of past and present, in a time interval of almost 5 years. It shows the evolution of the fate of humanity and also, an evolution of a particular person: Malorie.


“You are saving their lives for a life not worth living.”

The book is a mother’s destiny. It is every mother’s sacrifice for her children, pushed to the extreme, because, sometimes, being a mother means to make the deadliest sacrifices and to take the most dangerous decisions in order to keep your children safe. But, in an abnormal world, what would those sacrifices evolve into? How far must mothers like Malorie go?

The plot is simple if you have an overview, but it gets complicated as you add some spices. You take Malorie’s decision to start a dangerous journey with her children on the river. Then add the distinction that they have to be blindfolded because something out there makes people lose their marbles and kill themselves. And put there some madmen somewhere on the river too and also some mad wolves around there. Not enough? Try some retrospectives. Oh, yes. Those little bastards. Even better, add to them the drama (trademark). Oh, yes, now we’re talking. And now, there you have it. A nice, dystopian masterpiece. Not that complicated, right? Who says masterpieces have to be complicated? Those who don’t know. The most brilliant things in life are also the simplest and this is a proven fact.

Everything is constructed around Malorie’s destiny, past, present and future. Everything seems to concentrate on her like the Universe put its own faith on her shoulders. Malorie seems like is somehow „punished” to live in a world where you are warned about the danger, you know there is danger, but you are not able to see the danger. And this makes things difficult because sight is the most dominant sense of a human being. Without it, the adaption to life is just so much harder. Just think of a world in which you are constantly threatened and you have to learn how to defend yourself without seeing what are you fighting. Now, take that and add two four-year-olds. You know what does that equal? Even a more profound danger and fear than before. And this is what Malorie has to face in this book. To save herself and her two four-year-old children from something that they can’t name, but they know it is there. Survival, but next level.


“How can she expect her children to dream big as the stars if they can’t lift their heads to gaze upon them?”

Malorie

How can a mother bear the feeling to desire to save her children when there is no desire for living in a wicked world like that? What kind of internal passion do you need to have to do that? What does it take to never give up hope? To still fight for something?

We will never know for sure, but we always must keep going. There will be always something to fight for.

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