Paperback, 473 pages
Published January 29th 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (first published March 1st 2014)
Josh Malerman's debut novel BIRD BOX is a terrifying psychological thriller that will haunt you long after reading. Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent; they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew. Then the Internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore.
Brilliantly creepy. Completely gripping. At points absolutely terrifying. I read it all in one go this morning when it arrived (throwing the rest of my TBR to the wind because this is one of the books I've been most excited for, for ages).
Have you ever seen those two episodes of Doctor Who where the Doctor and Rose are on a ship floating outside a black hole? They're called The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit. That first episode terrified me, because of the scene I'll link here.
I don't know whether it was that very night, or maybe a few days later, but I had my first experience of sleep paralysis. I was 8. And it was the same voice telling me not to turn around, not to look, that I'd die if I saw what was behind me. And I couldn't move, which is a part of sleep paralysis, but I was so desperate to turn around. I was more afraid of not knowing what was there than I was of the possible monster itself.
That's the fear that Bird Box manipulates. Fear of the unknown, fear of never being able to know what's coming for you. And it does it so well. The constant tension and fear as all the characters move literally blindly around, knowing that something that could kill them could be a foot in front of them the whole time but not being able to check.
The characters are great, the plot is gripping - going back and forward in flashbacks and then to the present situation and you can't help but keep reading to find out what happens to everyone, to fill in the holes and find out what's missing, and what is yet to happen.
The only criticism I have of this whole book is that there's one scene, the birth scene, where the language is a bit too flowery for what's going on. This happens in some other places also but that's where it's most pronounced. But other than that this was absolutely terrific.
I'm going to put a few content warnings under a spoiler tag in the "Things to look out for section" that could be possible triggers, so if you think you could have a problem with something like that you can check it out, and if you don't you can leave it be. But I highly recommend this book, if you like horror or even just plain thriller.
Things to look out for:
- A gripping, perfectly paced plot
- Well rounded characters
- A constant tension that leaves you feeling like you need to loosen your muscles when it's over
- Animal death
- Child abuse (although I'm hesitant to actually call it "abuse", because it feels justified and necessary in the case it is - you'll see if you read it)
- Language that can be jarring in contrast to what's happening on the page