Bird Box by author Josh Malerman is a psychological horror story depicting the events of a worldwide pandemic through the eyes of one woman and her two children. Not a disease as such but everyone who sees this mysterious thing that’s supposedly to horrific for the mind to cope with, goes on a killing spree before taking their own lives.
The story is told through two different timelines, the first being over four years after the outbreak, Malorie and her two children haven’t seen outside, when they go out, they wear blindfolds, their windows are blackened and she teaches her children to rely on their hearing and their instincts. She knows of a way to reach help and she’s waited, preparing, nurturing her two four year old kids for the most dangerous and harrowing journey they’ll ever make but is she saving them for a life not worth living.
The second timeline is the initial outbreak and repercussions via news reports as the deaths start to get closer to home, Malorie and her sister don’t leave their house, nobody has answers, people are seeing something that drives them to hurt others, to hurt themselves and just at the wrong time Malorie discovers she is pregnant. As events unfold Malorie makes it to a house full of other people, careful people and we see how this group survive and the intriguing tension as the house goes from fully occupied to just containing Malorie and her children.
The title Bird Box comes from the alarm system the house sets up to warn of approach, the story is driven by the changes in its protagonist as Malorie, a normal young woman adjusts to the terror present in her new life, driven by the need to survive, she calls her children simply ‘boy’ & ‘girl’ and subjects them to a harsh regime, with eyes on only one goal. The story for me lacked closure and the threat they faced was never expanded on, I don’t know if there is an intended follow on, it certainly feels like there should be. The author relies on the unsaid, the interpretation of the reader and understatement to create tension, which was ok but it felt unfinished and didn’t live up to the hype or my expectations.