BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman

January 30, 2015

Four years ago something devastating began infecting people around the world. The outbreak was so baffling and odd that at first no one was quite aware of what was happening. People turned on one another – reports of violence in remote areas expanded and spread until those left began barricading themselves indoors. It was a viral madness, the cause of which seemed to be as simple as seeing something so horrible that it drove the viewer insane.

Malorie has lasted this long by living in perpetual blindness. It’s an awful and horrifying existence, one that her two children have only ever known. But Malorie knows they can’t continue like this and decides it’s time to try and move on. To do so means exposing them all to whatever caused this plague of insanity and hoping they can get to their final destination without laying eyes on it.

Josh Malerman’s debut is crazy fabulous. From page one I knew it was going to be unique but quite soon after that I realized it was going to be amazing.

Malorie’s world is cut off. She lived with her sister when the outbreak started, discovering that she was pregnant just as things got really bad. And then she was alone. But she was able to find others. She was able to find a safe haven. And they learned more about what was going on around them. All of this is revealed to the reader as the story progresses. Malerman begins the book with Malorie facing her coming journey with the kids, unfolding the past and present portions of the story through alternating chapters.

As the book progresses, we learn just how strong Malorie is and just how determined she’s had to be to get by this long. It’s a tense and terrifying tale. In fact, Bird Box is one of the outright creepiest horror reads I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

01/15 Becky LeJeune

Read on for the BookBitch review:

Click to purchase

Malorie is a young mother of two children known simply as Boy and Girl, and she is a survivor living in a post-apocalyptic world, raising her children to use all their senses, especially their listening skills, as sight is not an option here.

In this world, the survivors struggle to stay alive by living indoors with all the windows boarded up; the sight of whatever is outside is causing people to become violent murderers, as well as suicidal, in the most horrific ways possible.

The book moves back and forth over a four year period when all the insanity began, exploring the personalities of the people that came together and survived, and how they managed to live after all ways of communication effectively withered and died with most of the population. It ends with Malorie rowing her children down a river while blindfolded in hopes of taking them to safety.

The characters are interesting, the story moves along very rapidly as the suspense builds, but unfortunately, the ending is a disappointment; the reason for all the bloodshed is never explored or explained. Recommended for readers who enjoy horror and post-apocalyptic fiction.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

5/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman. Ecco (May 13, 2014). ISBN 978-0062259653. 272p.

SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh

March 3, 2014

New York is a wasteland filled with crime and filth. As a former garbage man, Spademan figures it’s still a decent place to call home. Where he once picked up literal trash he now tracks down a more figurative kind of waste acting as a killer for hire. His latest job involves the daughter of a well-known religious leader. This man has made a living offering salvation to those who can afford it. His evangelism is built on the limnosphere, a new kind of industry spawned from the internet except this one allows the user to live in an artificial world and those who can afford it never have to exist in reality again. But what this man is offering isn’t all that godly or perfect as becomes evident when Spademan meets his target. Now Spademan and everyone he knows are caught in the crosshairs.

Adam Sternbergh’s debut is unique in that this post apocalyptic world is limited to New York. The rest of the world exists and continues almost as usual. Residents in New York and the surrounding area have stayed in this lawless disaster area out of choice—like Spademan—or limitation.

The limnosphere adds another interesting twist and a creepy piece of potential future. It’s not so far-fetched that this created world could exist one day and that folks will actually be able to plug in, leaving the real world behind. Of course this also adds yet another reality for criminals to rule, which is a big part of Shovel Ready.

Shovel Ready is quite dark and more than a bit disturbing—maybe even a little beyond what you’d expect in a story where the hero is a contract killer. It’s also the first in a new series so if you’re a fan of quirky crime fiction and anti heroes, that means there will be more to come.

3/14 Becky Lejeune

SHOVEL READY by Adam Sternbergh. Crown (January 14, 2014). ISBN 978-0385348997. 256p.