Goodreads 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?
I originally discovered Bird Box in a bookstore in Boston in the winter, and last week I came across it in my hometown’s library while picking out a book to take with me on vacation. I thought a horror novel might not be the best option for a trip to Disney World, but the synopsis of the book had me so curious, so I checked it out. If you haven’t read this book, please do not read on, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. It is absolutely the best book I’ve read all year. If I hadn’t been on vacation, I would have read this in a matter of hours. Malerman’s writing style is clear and a little poetic, not stiff at all, so that it really feels like Malorie’s thoughts. I liked the way it switched between the present, on the river, and Malorie’s past, in the house. It sort of jumped all over her timeline, revealing secrets in a very strategic and powerful way. We know the eventual fate of Malorie’s housemates, but it is a while before we know exactly how they get there, which kept me tearing through the book, desperate to find out what happens to them.
The only problem that I have with this book is that there are still big questions left unanswered at the end. Is Gary really immune, and why? And what was it that would drive them insane if they saw it?! But I have rationalized to myself why we don’t get these answers: they don’t matter to Malorie’s survival. She can’t know what the creatures are, because to know would be to see them, and to see them would be to die. She has to accept that she’ll never know because she wants to live. As for Gary, well, it’s possible Gary doesn’t even know why he’s immune, so he couldn’t reveal it to us. Still, I’m dying to know the answers to these questions. If anyone has any theories, I would love to hear them. I always pictured the creatures as being in a human form but more like a shadow, pitch black with no features, like looking into a human-shaped hole. I have no ideas about Gary, though. I’ll just say that if Malerman puts out a sequel, I will be first in line to read that book.