By: Josh Malerman
Wow. I don’t even know where to start with this novel. I chose it because it was on Book Riot’s Best Books of 2014 So Far list, and I typically enjoy the books recommended by Book Riot. Saying that I “enjoyed” this book is almost like saying I “enjoy” coffee in the morning. I absolutely devoured this book. I was wary, because I again found myself with a post-apocalyptic style book and I feel as though I’ve read my fair share of those in the last year or so. But even from the first line, “Malorie stand in the kitchen, thinking,” I knew I was going to finish this book in the span of a day.
Malorie’s world is mostly dark. She and her two young children live in a cheerless house that protects them from the outside world. There is something on the other side of the door that must not be seen. It’s almost a reverse Weeping Angel, instead of “blink and you’re dead,” it’s “open your eyes and you and everyone you love will be in bloody horrifying heaps around the room.” No one knows exactly what it is that causes this mental break, only that the possibility of seeing it has driven some people to the extreme of plucking out their own eyes to protect themselves.
She has trained her children to rely mostly on their ears so they do not have to use their betraying eyes in the outside world. One day, she attempts to escape the house and find a sanctuary where she can provide a better, if not normal life for her and her littles.
What I loved most about this book was that it made the reader rely on their sense of hearing as well. There are such rich descriptions of sounds that I was forced to imagine myself, blindfolded and terrified with nothing to guide me but my aural sense. And unlike other horror books, there are unanswered questions in Bird Box. I was left satisfied but my mind was racing, filling in the details that were (intentionally?) absent. One of the reasons I don’t usually read horror and suspense novels is because I am so often disappointed at the “culprit.” The twist, the villain, the evil presence is something that was either guessed in the fourth chapter, or a twist so ridiculous it leaves me wanting to hurl the book across the room. Horror has a tendency to die with the revelation. As things come in to place, I become more and more distant. I haven’t read a book this fulfilling in a long time, and Josh Malerman has proven himself, in the breadth of 260 pages, to be a master in this genre.
Best line: “Perhaps the mentally ill will inherit this new world, unable to be broken any more than they already are.”
By Radhika Sanghani
So, after my latest book choices, I realized that I’ve been reading a lot of heavy, intense stuff lately. So, I went to the library with the intention of finding something light hearted and hilarious to mellow out my bedside table. I picked this one based solely on the review blurbs on the back, one of which read: “Laugh out loud funny!” I took it home, and, similarly to an actual virgin, I nervously anticipated the evening when I could finally lie down and get started.
The book did actually make me “laugh out loud” in some parts; especially those very real moments in which the main character laments the world’s obession with perfectly groomed pubic hair. However, most of the book seemed like narrator navel gazing, and it quickly lost its appeal. There were some great self realization “growth” moments for the protagonist, during which I mentally hurrahed her success, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me piqued. The story is precisely what it sounds like. The tale of a horrified 21 year old virgin, living in Camden, who is desperately trying to rid herself of her “horrifying” status. She has several misadventures involving her friends, wax, wine and chocolate. Overall, not really impressed.
By Scott Westerfield
Typically, dystopian fiction doesn’t take me very long to read. Maybe because I’m bored with the genre, and therefore I don’t spend too much time thinking about the story. This book was a little different, but I can’t say what caused the break in protocol for me. The story takes place in a future world where everyone, at the age of 16, receives an operation to make them gorgeous. The theory is there is no longer any inequality when it comes to body image, which makes for a happier, more productive population. Definitely an interesting concept. The citizens are separated based on what stage of life they are in, such as Ugly, Pretty or Crumbly. I have to say, the choice of the word crumbly to mean elder was at once hilarious and irritating. It brought to mind doddering, slipper wearing corpses, which didn’t mesh with the description of those people in the book. There are plenty of suspenseful, action packed scenes, but just as many with the typical teenage angst that so often accompanies this kind of book.
Also, I understand that there really aren’t new thoughts anymore. Everything pulls from something else, and it is a very rare occasion that I read a book, see a movie, or even hear a song that doesn’t make me pause and recall something else that is similar. This story was like reading a transcript of the Twilight Zone’s episode, Number Twelve Looks Just Like You; complete with the sinister twist at the end. I wouldn’t say that I loved this book, but it did pique my interest enough to continue with the rest of the series; though not immediately following this one.