Bear with me while I make a comparison.
Right about the time M. Night Shyamalan started dialing it in, he put a movie out called The Happening. The film was loaded with potential but fell flat with a—dare I say—Stephen Kingish ending and a laughable performance courtesy of Mark Wahlberg. But there was something dreadfully eerie about the epidemic where people just kill themselves for no apparent reason. Bird Box reminds me of The Happening. Except, it does what Shyamalan failed to do:
I began reading Bird Box without knowing a single thing about it. This made for an even more pleasurable reading experience, but because this is a review and you’re already reading it, I won’t deny you a small synopsis.
Bird Box is about a global epidemic where, for no apparent reason, people are losing their minds and killing themselves—that is, after killing anyone who may be nearby first. The trigger? Something they saw.
As a result, the world goes into mass hysteria mode. People from all over are boarding themselves up in their homes, walking around blindfolded, and taking any measures necessary not to look.
At anything. Anywhere…
…the only safe haven being the protection of their dark, window-covered homes.
Malerman’s tale is a very different take on a post-apocalyptic setting that is told in a timeline that intermittently swaps from present to past and back again. But not to worry, the flashbacks are comfortably intertwined with the story, aiding Bird Box tremendously in its delivery. Malerman doesn’t make you wade through twenty pages of development muck while you trudge through, wishing you could get back to the present. Whatever the tense, the chapters are relatively short and equally entertaining. And while that makes for aggressive page turning, it doesn’t help much in the way of character development.
Some of the key characters were bland, there were a handful of loopholes, and the ending didn’t resolve as well as I would have liked, but you know what? I loved every minute of it anyway. I was fully engaged and highly entertained.
Bird Box is claustrophobic, it’s atmospherically creepy, and it’s very guilty of forcing you to turn page after page needing to know why, how, and what next.
Order it here.