1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Trapped in the box,
This review is from: Bird Box (Hardcover)
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In some respects, Malerman's book follows an established template - a catastrophe destroys civilization, leaving a few survivors scrabbling in the wreckage; there is a need to get away, to a safer place; a journey follows. Such stories generally make me think of John Wyndham's works, and given this book's preoccupation with sight (and its lack) the obvious comparison would be The Day of the Triffids.
Malorie finds herself alone, and pregnant, as a sinister - what? a plague? a wave of hysteria? - engulfs the world, leading to madness, murders and suicide. Nobody can tell what has caused it, and the frightended survivors convince themselves that the only way to remain safe is avoid seeing... something. Block out the windows. Don't let anything in. If you have to outside, wear a blindfold.
Looking for safety, Malorie is offered shelter in a house. Everyone there has lost someone - parent, child, partner, sister - and the group bond, finding ways, under the leadership of Tom, to remain safe yet explore their immediate neighbourhood.
Malerman is very good at imagining, and describing, what this is like. The panic caused by hearing, while outside, the slightest noise - given the inability to see what caused it. The stress of even a short journey, beset by fear at getting lost. The sheer paranoia of the housemates, trapped together, feeding on itself, making it impossible to be sure who has been infected by seeing the "creatues" (if that's what they were) and who is just reaction to fear and claustrophobia. He begins to explore the idea that the whole phenomenon is simply hysteria, caused by nothing real, with some of the housemates declaring for that view - however, in the end, the answer does seem to be that something "real" is going on, though in the nature of things, we cannot know exactly what. I found that slightly disapponting, but it is a small disappointment, given the imaginative power of this book, in particular the despair of Malorie as she makes that final journey, with two young children, trained from birth to listen, not look.
Overall, four stars - I might have gone for five if the ending had been a bit less abrupt - a good and satisfying read.