Book Review: Bird Box

‘It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it tear you in pieces…’

I am an absolute sucker for dystopia. Whether it is because I take great pleasure in the suffering of others or not is a frightening debate for another day but there is no doubting that the vast majority of contemporary novels that I read are set in a terrible future (as opposed to the terrible present in which we all currently reside).

Bird Box is set in an alternative future where it has become increasingly dangerous to open your eyes anywhere other than in your own home. This might sound a bit gimmicky but it does add a level of tension that makes Bird Box as compelling as it is terrifying. Josh Malerman was completely unknown to me before this book, both as a writer and as lead singer of The High Strung, but as debut novels go, Bird Box is right up there.

Combining the usual post apocalyptic message that humans are awful with the fear of the unknown is not particularly unique, but the fact that the antagonists are something that you can’t even see? That is a truly disturbing scenario.

The writing is well delivered and in terms of structure, the flashbacks and flashforwards are like yin and yang rather than an extra layer of confusion. The characters are well drawn, the plot is simple but nail biting, and the ending is satisfying if not quite show stopping.

There are plans to turn Bird Box into a feature length movie and while that is an intriguing prospect, it seems unlikely that a big screen adaptation could correctly capture the claustrophobic atmosphere that runs through the book. I read it in three days and I’m a moron. That’s how good it was.

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