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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, May 2014 - After finishing this novel, there is one thing I 100% regret – and that was starting it around 10 pm on a weeknight. This chilling debut is so well-written, and so suspenseful I had a very difficult time putting it down. The book is told from the point of view of Malorie, a young mother who is fleeing to safety with her two young children. She doesn’t know from whom or what she’s fleeing, but does know that just one glimpse will drive a person mad. The story seamlessly jumps from past to present as we slowly uncover just what has left the world in complete darkness. Bird Box is the quintessential page-turner and I’ll be eagerly waiting for Josh Malerman’s next work. –Laura, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Something is out there....

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse 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 remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: 20 miles downriver in a rowboat blindfolded with nothing to rely on but Malorie's wits and the children's trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey - a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside and confront the ultimate question: In a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman's breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

©2014 Josh Malerman (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Masterful book paired with outstanding narration

Excellent blend of SF and horror. The author's ability to bring alive this story without revealing the unseen horror (or, more accurately, the creature that must be left unseen lest the viewer plunges into madness marked by homicide and then suicide). Malerman carefully construct the narrative, bouncing from events 4.5 years earlier with the present-day effort of Mallory to find some measure of safety for the two, unnamed children in her care. The opening chapter plunges the reader into an altered world, where windows are anathema, blindfolds are protection, and answers are out of reach. Society seems crippled and mostly dead, and unknown creatures walk the world - but these creatures do not seem to physically assault or stalk humans, but simply by existing and being seen inflict madness. The author then expertly jogs back in time to the early days when scattered and unsubstantiated reports trickle in of people going mad and killing others then themselves. We know immediately from the present-day chapters that Mallory is now alone with two children, but we don't know how she came to be sole parent in these dreadful times. We know she believes she must brave a 20 mile river passage blindfolded to try to find safety. In flashback, we find Mallory and her sister living unremarkable lives. Mallory finds she is pregnant as the news stories come faster and inexplicable events creep ever closer to their Detroit home. The flashback chapters depict a world falling apart, first slowly and then with extreme rapidity. We follow Mallory as she tries to find refuge with others, life in a new house, pregnancy waxing as we know that time in a this cooperative house with support and help are waning. As we move ever closer to the unknown catastrophe that leaves her alone. The story is well-balanced and beautifully crafted, melancholy and frightening, suspenseful and heart-breaking. Well worth the time, though you may find it difficult to gaze out a window while doing so.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional

This format was possibly the best way to experience this novel given the subject matter. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be terrified and inspired by an audio book experience.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Don't look!

Malorie and her sister have moved into a house together when reports start to come in from all over the world: normal people are glimpsing something that instantly turns them into crazed killers. While the Internet boils with theories, people gradually stop driving, stop shopping, and finally they just barricade themselves in their homes with the doors and windows blocked. Society eventually falls apart, yet Malorie finds hope and musters the strength to go on. But she can't live like a prisoner forever, so she begins a terrifying blindfolded journey to what she desperately hopes will be enduring safety.

I have to say it took me a good half-hour to get into this one. The narrator didn't really do it for me, with uneven reading volume and more angst than seemed necessary. It didn't help that Malorie imbues even the most boring object with intense dramatic feelings.

But I'm really glad I spent the time, because Bird Box turned out to be one of the best books I've listened to for a while. After the first chapter or two, we meet the real Malorie (not just the dramatic one) and hear her story--which is compelling, to say the least. By midway through, I completely understood the feelings those objects brought up, and the angst, too.

The real star of this book is the author's handling of his themes: fear, bravery, putting faith and trust in others and yourself. All those things can be scary, but sometimes you just have to face them anyway, even when you're blindfolded. Malorie and her friends give it their best, with varying results, in an evocative illustration of what it's like to be part of a group of survivors.

Throughout the book, Malorie's memories of the past alternate with her frightening present, creating suspense that made it really hard to stop listening. I did the last three hours in one go, putting off bedtime again and again.

There isn't a lot of how-and-why here, and logic nitpickers ("That couldn't possibly happen! It'd be more like..." etc) will probably be driven insane. But if you're looking for real horror, Bird Box is a sustained scare that will keep you thinking long after the book is over.

70 of 78 people found this review helpful

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Compelling

couldn't stop listening, The Birdbox is so very different than any Apocalypse you've ever read. I enjoyed it till the end and than never wanted it to end. I would like to hear how the characters handle their new life and new world.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Some things are better left unseen

This novel carries an air of foreboding from beginning to end. The thrills and suspense never let up, and the reader will recognize yhat yhe yhing that goes bump in the night is most often best left unseen. Highly recommended.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Holy damn WOW!

I can't say enough good things about this story. Its so good.

What to expect:
This is a quiet slow book. Its told both in present tense and via flash backs.
A sense of terror surrounds every word. I haven't read anything so dreadful since Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
Not much in the action department. But you will be on the edge of your seat due to Malerman's excellent delivery.

I'd completely recommend this story. I was expecting less. Thought it could have fallen apart at any time. But it works all the way to the end. Out of the many hundreds of audible books I have listened to, this is up there with the best of them.

38 of 44 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Very, very, meh.

I first heard of this book years ago, while I was hunting for fresh authors producing novel horror and thriller books, and then later downloaded it this summer. About 1/4 of the way through, I was disappointed, and by the time I was 3/4 of the way there I stopped listening. With the hype surrounding the (possibly even worse) Netflix remake, I wanted to leave a review to hopefully save another Audible member’s monthly credit.

While an interesting concept (despite one that is rapidly losing originality), the loss of a sight and near isolation from the outdoors that plagued the characters in this novel was not pushed to its fullest potential. There are plenty of build up scenes-one in particular involving a well-that seems to lead something incredible, but quickly deflates. Repeat ad nauseam, and you have a book with only flat characters featuring frustrating quirks/motivations, many poorly or completely unexplained plot holes, and a lackluster rehash of themes and concepts we’ve seen before.

The narration was fine and only became grating later on, which is completely a result of the characters she was required to portray.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Couldn’t Stop

I could not stop listening to this book! I binged the book am getting ready to start Unbury Carol. I think I found my new favorite author!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Do yourself a favor and listen to this book!

Suspenseful & terrifying! I loved it, couldn't stop listening. Had me on the edge of my seat!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Don't fall for the hype

I'm calling bullsh*t on this book. Interesting premise to begin with but ultimately its just one long slow burning tease with no reveal at the end. I kept reading through a fairly implausible narrative for one reason - to find out what had caused society to break down. A few minutes from the end I began to realise the author wasn't going to tell us and while I'm all for mystery and interpretation, the lame ending to Bird Box is just a cop out. The human race literally just closes its eyes to the thing that threatens its survival. And don't get me started on how plausible it is for people to navigate their way through towns, forests and rivers on foot, driving a car! and paddling a rowboat without the use of sight - in real life a blindfolded person can't walk for 50 metres without beginning to walk in circles. I pick up each book expecting to have to suspend belief to give the story permission to take its course, but the author needs to do his bit and earn that trust.
I'll grant that there a few genuine moments of suspense built up during the story, and I'll accept that what's unseen can be scarier than what's seen, but the reader is after all just an observer and the author of a story that asks for so much blind (pun intended) acceptance of the premise needed to throw us a few bones. Frankly, I think the author deliberately chose not to reveal what the "creatures" are because he knew no one would have accepted it. The "mystery" is just a lazy device to cover over a premise not fully thought through to a satisfying conclusion.
So I find myself confused - this book has so many gushing 4 and 5 star reviews - what did I miss?

47 of 60 people found this review helpful