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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-08-07 08:33
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Bird Box - Josh Malerman

TITLE:  Bird Box

AUTHOR:  Josh Malerman



"Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children's trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.




*************************LOTS OF SPOILERS*****************************

I watched the movie and read the book.  I don't get what the fuss was about.  As a horror novel, it might have gory bits, but it just didn't work for me.  I was neither scared, left in suspense or terrified.   Too slow, no details about the "creatures" (their motivations or what they were, which is completely unsatisfying and incredibly annoying), limited atmosphere, limited drama (psychological or otherwise) and I simply didn't give a damn about any of the characters (they were bland).  Also, Malerman needs to do some research on child birth, especially if he is going to write about it.  And calling the kids "Boy", "Girl" instead of their names? What if it had been two girls or two boys?  "Boy1", "Boy2"?  "Firstborn", "Secondborn"?  I'm also failing to see 4 year old kids do any of the stuff the kids do in this novel.  Unless my husband's 4-year old nephew is on the bottom end of the physical and mental scale?  The novel basically comes down to "a bunch of people stuck in a house" dynamics, with the usual associated messiness (no need for nebulous monsters if people want to kill each other or themselves - they do this perfectly well on their own).  The "creatures" come across as simply irrelevant - an excuse for people to lock themselves up.   

Interesting concept, flat execution.

PS:  I did not appreciate reading about the poor dog!!

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review 2020-01-17 19:44
A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman
A House at the Bottom of a Lake - Josh Malerman

I usually don't go for short stories, especially at this price point, but the cover design was striking and I really enjoyed Malerman's last novel.


'A House at the Bottom of a Lake' doesn't disappoint. It's a story about first love and fear of its loss and of the wider, stranger world yawning in front of you at 17. I feel this easily could have been developed into a novel.

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review 2019-12-27 16:03
Bird Box - Josh Malerman

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

While I have not seen the Netflix adaptation of this yet, I think the big problem I had with this book was that going into it I had the vague notion that POSSIBLE SPOILER (you don't really get any answers at the end and don't find out what the creatures are or what is going on.)


This is a huge pet peeve of mine, because I think it lacks creativity and I am just never satisfied when books/movies take this route. Because of this, the book was less satisfying and more irritating for me.

The writing itself was fine, overall pretty simple with some good descriptions. I do need to stop reading the quotes on the covers of books though because they always let me down. Calling this "a notably strong study of modern psychological terror" set my expectations a bit high and the book just could not deliver. At no point was I scared, terrified, or left in suspense. I found most of the book to drag on and much of it was a bit predictable given the time switches.

I also found that I didn't really care about the three main characters in the present tense. Throughout the book, Malorie was such a plain, boring character without a personality that I could not even see her as an actual character. She seemed like a sketch rather than a person that I needed to root for. Likewise, the children don't have personalities either, much less names, so they didn't feel real to me. The only ones I cared about were Tom and Victor and you know something is going to happen to them right from the beginning so you don't even have much time to get attached.

Overall, I think this was an okay read. The premise was good, but on the whole it just fell flat for me. I found much of my reading experience to consist of a few annoying things that built up so that I couldn't find much to enjoy about the book. The suspense was mostly just scenes dragging on way too long then not resulting in much or resulting in something the reader saw coming for a while.

I do still want to watch the film adaptation to see how it compares, but the book just wasn't that interesting to me. 


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review 2019-11-12 11:25
"Bird Box" by Josh Malerman - highly recommended
Bird Box - Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman knows where our fear lives. 


It's not in the gushing splatter of arterial blood or in staring into the eyes of a predator ready to pounce or in fighting for your life with something monstrous. These spike our adrenalin, call on us to fight or flee and then they are gone.


Real fear, the kind that eats at you with the slow relentlessness of rust, comes from living with a threat you cannot fight or run away from. Real fear, the kind that hunkers down in your mind and stays there, comes from being vulnerable and helpless for long periods of time, from knowing the threat is there but not when it will strike, from understanding that surviving the last hour doesn't lessen the threat of the next.


In "Bird Box" Josh Mallerman has created the perfect situation for extended exposure to deep, corrosive fear. He creates a world were seeing something, no one knows what, will make you kill others and then yourself. Where sight, the sense we all depend on most, becomes a threat, not a defence. Where anyone, including you, can become an enemy in an instant. Then he locks a group of people house that at first seems like a haven but slowly becomes a cage, and lets the fear fester and the tension build until threat is a constant unwelcome companion.


Early in the book, there's a scene with one of the men from the house fetching water from the well. He's blindfold but he's done this many times before. He's has a rope around his waist, held by a housemate. There are sticks to mark his path. He tells himself that if he follows the routine, he'll be safe. Then he thinks he hears... what? who? how close?


Malerman turns that walk to the well into a scene more heart-thumping than a face-to-face confrontation with the nightmare creature of your choice.


This goes straight for where our fears live. 


I won't reveal the plot but I will say that I stayed up late to finish "Bird Box" because I couldn't go to sleep without knowing how the book ended.


If you haven't read it already, I recommend it to you. It's as close to perfect as a horror book can get. The tension is almost unbearable. The fear is visceral. The people are real. The events, well they're a perfect mix of heartbreak and hope.

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text 2019-10-31 03:20
WOW! What an end to my Halloween Bingo reading.
Bird Box - Josh Malerman



I stayed up late to finish "Bird Box", not because I wanted to read the book in time to blackout my bingo card, although it does that, but because I couldn't go to sleep without knowing how the book ended.


I'll write a proper review when I'm more awake. In the meantime, I'm just going to recommend that you read this if you haven't already. It's as close to perfect as a horror book can get. The tension is almost unbearable. The fear is visceral. The people are real. The events, well they're a perfect mix of heartbreak and hope.


My thanks to Char for bringing this one to my attention.


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