WELL WELL WELL. Look who’s starting 2015 right. Yup, it’s THIS GUY. Suck it resolutions, I AM ACHIEVEING YOU.
Did you miss me, darlings? Don’t try to deny it, I know you did. I’m sure 2014 was barren and joyless without me and Book Cat to warm your cold hearts and empty lives. No, no, let’s not get at all mushy. We didn’t miss you at all. Seriously, stop weeping, you’re embarrassing yourselves.
ANYWAY. I’m going to do what I always do, and forget anything and everything unpleasant until it suits me to take bloody revenge on who- or whatever has crossed me (that’s right, sleep with one eye open, 2014, you bastard). So we’ll just pretend last year’s “hiatus” never happened and jump right in.
The first book I’m reviewing this year is the last book I read last year: Bird Box by Josh Malerman.
The Deal: (Taken from the book jacket, because there’s no way in hell to explain this briefly without spoiling everything, which reminds me, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS…, er, later): Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything
Robyn says: Damn. This was a really great read, one of those books that just sinks its claws into your gut and yanks you right into the world inside its pages. I read this the day before New Year’s Eve and I can honestly say, in my best Gandalf voice, I have no memory of that day.
What’s so great about it? Well, it’s a brilliant, creative idea, and something I haven’t encountered before – the idea that seeing the monster is what will lead to your death. It’s terrifying and intriguing. It speaks to something very primitive and childlike, like the part of me that still thinks a blanket over my head will keep me safe when I hear something moving around in the dark corners of my bedroom. Because I totally believe that, and you’re a liar if you say you don’t, too. But which of us can say we don’t eventually pull back the corner of that blanket-armour and crack one eyelid open, casting a slivered gaze into the darkness, breath held, desperate to see what scares us? Humans are visual animals. Sight is our greatest asset to survival, after our big ol’ brains. In Bird Box, sight is Malorie’s greatest weakness – sight, and her own mind, full of fear and uncertainty. Oh, and other people, too, of course. Because this is an apocalyptic horror novel, and by now I think we all know it’s other people you have to look out for, even when invisible, madness-inducing ‘creatures’ are trying to get you to look at them. (Side-note: I kind of feel bad for the creatures. Maybe they are just really needy, insecure dudes looking for validation. Imagine if every time you asked someone how you looked, they went crazy and killed everyone around them before finding a creative and gruesome way to commit suicide… Time for a new look, lol)
The story is exceptionally well-paced, so suspenseful that there was never a lull. The setting shifts from the early days of the crisis to the present, four years later, a single day in which Malorie decides to venture out of the safety of her house with the two young children in her care. I thought this worked really well. It allowed the author to provide exposition without the dreaded infodump, and also heightened the almost unbearable level of suspense. *Cartman voice* Seriously, you guys. I was totally on edge the entire time I was reading. Ooooh, you know what the word is? TAUT. I never get to use that word. IT WAS TAUT.
Some of the not so great things? Well, I really liked this book, so it’s difficult to find many flaws. I did think the characters sometimes fell a little flat. Malorie felt underdeveloped, which is probably odd for a POV character. The supporting characters were blurry (with the exception of Tom, who I wish we had gotten to know a little better). The kids were more like pets, for all that we are told about them.
Something else: for a horror novel, it was a little… family friendly. PG-13. Tame. Antiseptic. Ok, fine, I’ll just say it. MORE BLOOD, PLEASE. Yes, the psychological terror was awesome and effective and made me sleep with my nightlight on. Okay, with an extra nightlight on (SHUT UP). Still. I felt the story would have been improved a little by seeing something. It was like you’re waiting, waiting, waiting to finally see what we (and Malorie) aren’t supposed to see… and then you don’t.
Yeah. But maybe… sequel?
Verdict: Loved it. Read it. Totally worth the night of sleep you will inevitably forfeit to find out what happens next.
Best lines: A lot of great lines in this one, but I didn’t write any of them down because I was so engrossed in the story. Everyone else seems to love this one – thank Odin someone tore their eyeballs away from the page long enough to make a note of it. “It’s better to face madness with a plan than to sit still and let it take you in pieces.” Totally agree, dude.
Rating: Four out of five black shadow-monsters lurking in your bedroom closet tonight, waiting for the moment when you let your little head peak out from under the magic blanket and they ATTACK. Try getting to sleep now MWAHAHAHAHA.
Book Cat? Anything to add? How was 2014 for you?
Until next time…