You know me. I’m just your run-of-the-mill Sandra Bullock fan and a book nerd. I saw Bird Box’s trailer and was hooked immediately! I love post-apocalyptic stories and Sandy Bullock was starring in it? The popcorn was already a-poppin’.
I only recently discovered that the movie was actually based on a book, so I immediately purchased it on my Kindle app and started reading it. This is a review of both the book and the movie.
Book review: Bird Box by 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.
I’ve read my share of thrillers and post-apocalyptic fiction. But Bird Box was more enthralling than any similar book I’ve read before. And a lot of it has to do with the entity that’s the antagonist in the book. It’s shrouded in mystery. No one really knows much about it because everyone who sees it dies.
That’s it–opening your eyes can kill you in Josh Malerman’s world. As society dwindles, the few remaining survivors start boarding up windows and stop venturing out without a blindfold on. The protagonist, Malorie, pregnant and bereaved of her sister, answers a classifieds ad and goes to a group home. There she meets a group of people who survive together, not knowing much about the danger that lurks outside. But this was 4 years back.
Now, Malorie is older, has two children, and is on a rowboat with them, rowing 20 miles down the river to a facility which promises a better life than the post-apocalyptic world outside. What happened to the other habitants of the house and whether or not Malorie makes it down the river without becoming a victim of the entity forms the rest of the story.
One of the best things about this novel is how realistic it feels. The slightest rustle can set the reader on edge. Finding a jump scare in a book is very rare, but this book has it. You’ll constantly be afraid of what’s going to happen next and you just won’t be able to put the book down.
And therein lies the beauty of this book.
There’s a marked difference between the Malorie from 4 years ago and the Malorie now. She’s rougher. She’s been through a lot. The present tense narrative of this book took some getting used to. I hated it initially, but I feel like the tense greatly helped in making the book thrilling too.
There is one point in the book where you find out what happened to the other habitants of the house that’s so brilliantly written, so vivid in the descriptions used, it’ll remain with you long after you’ve put the book down.
I finished Bird Box in one sitting, and I can’t stress on the beauty of this page turner enough. Do read it if you like post-apocalyptic thrillers, strong mothers, and stories about things that go bump in the night.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Bird Box film review
From my book review, I know you can suss out that I went in with a lot of expectations. And those expectations weren’t fully met.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s some excellent acting, the background score is perfectly thrilling, and the movie is just as nail-bitingly good as the book.
However, there were a few changes in the movie’s script that didn’t sit well with me. Here, Malorie doesn’t answer a classifieds ad, she’s rushed down a road by scared pedestrians and she’s ushered into the house. The inhabitants are slightly different from the ones in the book and they act differently too.
While Trevate Rhodes’ Tom is portrayed well, he won’t be able to hold a candle to Book Tom. I didn’t see any of Book Tom’s resourcefulness and leadership qualities in movie Tom.
The house’s inhabitants don’t have any of the camaraderie the book’s ones had. Olympia, though timid in the book, was still a memorable character. Movie Olympia has nothing but “timid” as her description. It looks like she was just there to tell us where one of the two kids in the rowboat came from.
And speaking of the rowboat, the kids don’t seem to do anything in it. One of the book’s beautiful storylines is how Malorie has trained her children to listen for her and how she beats herself up about it, thinking she’s not letting them be actual children. While she’s beating herself up on the inside, on the outside, she’s harsher on the children. None of this is clear in the movie. The movie children don’t even seem to do any of the listening they’ve been trained to do. It’s always Malorie.
And finally, one thing I was really looking forward to in the movie was that scene–the night when the babies are born. The book made me want to close my eyes out of fear. The movie made me go “thank u, next”.
If you’re not planning on reading the book first, you’ll love the movie. But if you did what I did and read the book first, nope, you won’t.
Rating: 3 out of 5