In an apocalyptic near-future, a mother and her two small children must make their way down a river, blindfolded. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them -- but is it man, animal, or monster?
Bird Box by Josh Malerman is a dark, tense, and touching story that is incredibly hypnotic ... What amazes me is that this is Malerman’s first novel, especially the ways he made me care about these people, the way he got through to me, off the page, and into my life out here in the real world, making it hard to breathe. Part I Am Legend, part The Road, this dark, anxious, and hauntingly original novel was one of my favorite books of the year.
Malerman veers back and forth between the slightly too lyrical, elegiac style of a high-blown literary novel, and the blunt prose of a propulsive horror story. He similarly crowds his book with minutia, while not focusing on some of the details that matter ... The erratic tone and focus can be distracting, and so can the unsubtle attempt to drum up tension by hiding Malorie’s intentions ... Malerman excels at building tension with his eerie descriptions of blindfolded characters groping their way through a world of the dead, aware that something inhuman and beyond comprehension might be observing them, or possibly standing right in front of them ... Malerman overreaches a bit in his debut, which could use as much attention to the cast as to the mood, but the mood is chillingly effective. Reading it feels like accepting a dare to walk into a strange place, eyes closed, with no idea who, or what, might be reaching out to make contact.
Malerman... keeps us tinglingly on edge with his cool, merciless storytelling. Just when you think he's going to disappoint with a Twilight Zone–like twist, he douses his tale in poetic gloom ... An unsettling thriller, this earns comparisons to Hitchcock's The Birds, as well as the finer efforts of Stephen King and cult sci-fi fantasist Jonathan Carroll.