Every now and again I read a book where I am super excited about doing the review for, and this is one of those books. This is how suspense should be done. The Bird Box by Josh Malerman is the most suspenseful book I’ve ever read. Going into the book “blind” is the best option, so if you don’t want to read any more of my review, just know that I LOVED it, and HIGHLY recommend it to all horror fans.
Bird Box is a horror book with strong thriller and suspense elements. The majority of the fear is psychological and a fear that every person reading can relate to. This is a relatively shorter book at 272 pages, that reads briskly, and is written in a common way. The author uses short sentences and many paragraph breaks to build suspense and fear. I absolutely love the use of breaks to create suspense in books but it might not be for everyone. The story is also two narratives, one in the present, and one in the past 4 years ago.
The book follows a young woman named Malorie in the present and 4 years ago. 4 years ago strange things started to occur around the world. People were going crazy and killing others and themselves. This epidemic started to spread throughout the whole world until it became an actual problem for every individual. People soon thought that these people were seeing something that caused them to lose their minds. No one really knew what people were seeing but now individuals were taking precautions to not go outside and to cover their windows. If people did go outside, they completely covered their eyes.
Malorie, just learning she is pregnant, is caught up in this ordeal, and sees an ad for a house of survivors. She arrives at the house and finds a handful of other survivors living together. Their purpose is to help each other survive this mess, but when the only way you can go outside is with your eyes closed and covered, it is a little difficult. 4 years in the future, Malorie has two children, and she is attempting to leave the house she arrived at 4 years ago by floating down a river completely without sight. Right at the start of the book we know that something bad happened in that house 4 years ago.
Reading about characters having to close their eyes and not knowing what is going on around them is terrifying. It just worked really well for me. The people don’t know if there is something actually out there or if it is just their imagination. Their mental health in the situation is so incredibly important and when you can’t even look outside, things can break down. There were many spots in this book where I had to stop reading because I just got too scared. This doesn’t happen to me very often. The last book I felt this way was House of Leaves. In fact, I would put this on a level of House of Leaves, of how much I enjoyed it.
The concept of this novel is what makes the novel so incredible. The writing isn’t anything special but like I said above, I do like the author’s use of paragraph breaks and sentence interruptions to build suspense. The setting is fantastic and one that everyone can relate to. The plot is put together really well. There are just enough clues in both narratives to build on each other and I really like that. I also really enjoy books where I’m lost at first and I have to figure out what is going on.
The only odd part of this book is the way the mother treats her children but considering the circumstances it makes sense. Just try not to judge her too quickly and wait until the end to understand.
I recommend this book to anyone that likes horror and suspense. This is how suspense should be done. A book at the right time. I’m amazed that this is a debut novel and will be looking for more books by Malerman. This is in my top 5 books I’ve read this year. I am so glad I started reading horror books again this year.
5/5 22/25 Possible Score
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)