Bird Box by Josh Malerman REVIEW

BOOK REVIEW Nightmare vision

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman book review .

It’s a little surprising that Josh Malerman’s debut is set to become a movie. Its characters spend so much time stumbling about in total darkness, it feels like radio would be a more natural fit.

An unknown force has led to an epidemic of suicides and murders; the mere sight of something is instantly driving people insane. We follow a small household of survivors, who live with blankets over the windows, and don blindfolds whenever they venture outside.

It’s a neat pitch, whose implications are thoughtfully worked out. Pregnant protagonist Malorie is quite a piece of work - remarkably resilient. The way chapters alternate between past and present helps maintain intrigue. And a metaphorical reading concerning the way we’re encouraged to live in a constant state of vaguely-defined fearfulness always feels within reach.

Bird Box doesn't feel all that original though, as it shares a good 80% of its DNA with your average zombie story. The characters lock themselves away; there are expeditions for supplies; people live in fear of friends “turning”; it’s uncertain if newcomers can be trusted. And while Malerman does a sterling job of periodically placing you inside a blindfold, mind racing with paranoid fears, as you wonder whether that brush against your shoulder was some unspeakable horror or merely a falling leaf, it’s a trick that eventually starts to lose its impact.

Ian Berriman

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Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.