Imagine never being able to look out a window ever again. Or, if you do, there is a good chance you’ll go mad.
In Bird Box, an epidemic- or something like it- has seized the world. The news is grim. Ordinary people are committing terrible acts of violence before gruesomely killing themselves. Slowly, people begin to understand that the victims are seeing something right before they go off the deep end. No one knows what that thing is, but the only defense is to cover the windows and doors and never look outside again.
The novel begins four years after the first outbreak. Malorie lives alone with her two children, boy and girl. On this day, she decides that she can’t stay where she is a moment longer and sets out on a perilous journey with the kids to find civilization. Blindfolded. As Malorie stumbles around completely vulnerable, she thinks back to how she ended up alone in a house with two preschoolers. It’s clear from the beginning that Malorie wasn’t always alone. What happened to the others?
When I really think about the concept of the novel, it seems silly. Some unknown “creature” is causing humans to commit Lovecraftian level acts of self-destruction. People aren’t just taking a bottle of pills. In most cases, people crack, start howling like dogs, before tearing themselves to pieces. Weird, right?
|How I imagine this going down.|
The thing is, I was totally hooked. I was a little nervous looking out my window while listening to Bird Box. I was impressed by the book’s aural descriptions. There is barely any visual information. Marlorie relies on her and the children’s hearing. As a result, the sentences are terse and filled with tension. All the while I wanted to see! What would have happened if Malorie gave into curiosity? What if she peeked? The success of this horror novel is what you imagine is there.
There’s also the human component. How long can people live together under these conditions before the stress is too much? The survival of the group depends on everyone getting along, but can this harmony continue indefinitely? Paranoia, claustrophobia set in. Humans aren’t meant to be cooped up in the dark together. As adaptable as we may be, it’s too much, too soon.
There is some ambiguity within Bird Box. There are some theories about the creatures that sound reasonable, but that’s about it. It’s not so much about them anyway as it is about the humans’ survival when faced with these challenges.
Although it’s not a perfect horror story (there were parts that had me raising a sceptical eyebrow), it is quite good. It gave me the heebie-jeebies and that’s all I ask.
About the audio: Audio is the way to go! It’s a story about listening and listening to the audiobook adds another dimension of creepiness. Bird Box is optioned for a movie and I can’t imagine how they will do this successfully. Cassandra Clare narrates and she’s as good as always.