An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
I started reading this book somewhere between 5:30 and 5:45. It is now 8:30 and I am finished. So I read this entire book in about 3 hours. That alone should tell you how amazing it is.
Bird Box takes place in a world where an unseen threat has pretty much taken out humanity. The threat is unseen because those who do see it go mad and either kill themselves or kill others and then themselves. So basically, don't look. This proves to be an obstacle for Melanie and her two children, simply called Boy and Girl, as they try to row their way down a river to a safe haven blindfolded.
Yeah, and I thought my family road trips sucked.
This book is incredible in every sense of the word. I'll start with the plot. It was very simple and yet so complex at the same time. There's two basic story lines: Malorie's first nine or so months in the world after The Problem and Malorie's journey to the safe haven with her children. In the Before storyline, we follow survivors as they try to make their way through the Post Problem world. Between the two storylines, there are so many twists, turns, and conflicts that you are never bored, not even for a second. I ate dinner while reading this because I didn't want to put it down because I HAD to know what happened next. It's also a plot I've never seen before. There are similarities to other works, most notably The Happening and The Road, but the plot itself is something completely new. It's nuances, conflicts, and characters make it a story I've never seen before.
The way this story is written is part of what makes it so unique. I'd say at least half the book is written without sight. We are only told what the characters feel, hear, smell and taste. Since books are a visual medium, it's definitely a strange way to experience a story. But Malerman makes it work so, so well. In some ways, I wish the whole book was told without us seeing anything. Though it was nice to see from time to time.
The characters are all well written, especially Malorie. At least I thought I wouldn't like her, considering that she didn't even name the children. She also seemed so (rightfully) worrisome that I thought that could potentially get on my nerves. But in the end her character was great. I loved following her and routed very hard for her. She is part of what makes this book such a compelling read. She has her flaws but you so desperately want her to succeed. I honestly thought she'd end up having to sacrifice herself for the kids, because I was so convinced by her desire to have them survive.
The other characters were just as equally well characterized. I adored Tom and Jules and loved their sections. Olympia was also delightfully charming. Interestingly, Malerman was able to pack a lot of characterization into very little space. The Boy and the Girl, for example, don't have a lot of dialogue and have relatively small roles in the story. Yet each has their own distinct character, mannerisms, and nuances. Malerman creates so much in them without writing all that much. I love it. I just love it.
My absolute favorite thing about this book is the nonlinear story line. That is what I think made it so intense and addictive. We start off knowing Malorie is alone with her children and then when the flashbacks begin we realize we're going to find out how she ended up alone. This made it so I HAD to find out what happened to the other survivors, what the creatures were. If the story was told linearly, starting when The Problem began, I don't think I would have read it with so much urgency. The nonlinear format gave the story a sort of uncertainty, and I absolutely adored it.
The only "complaint" I have about the book is that it ended. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know more about the creatures, about Malorie, about the other survivors. But that's not really a complaint. That's just the sign of a really good book.
Honestly, I don't remember the last time I read a book in one sitting. I think it was when I read Mockingjay. I told Mom how fast I read it and she laughed and said I was truly my Nana's granddaughter. Guess that was something she did a lot too.
Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Absolutely recommend. Read it, just maybe earlier in the day than I did. Now that it's getting dark, things are getting spooky.
Final thought: I read online they're turning it into a movie. I don't think it'll adapt well to the screen, but who knows.