Warning: Bird Box may cause agoraphobia. There’s something so basic about the fear we get when we can’t see. The slightest touch can be frightening. Is that sound just the wind? Is there a presence in front of you or just your imagination running wild? This novel taps into a primal fear but one we’ve probably all experienced. When something wakes you up in the night and you’re too scared to look? That’s exactly the feeling throughout.
It’s so well done. I’m not into obvious horror or gore fests. The creatures are almost incidental. No one knows if they are purposefully hurting humans or if it’s just an accident of nature. By the end I’d made up my own mind about that, but really, they are the most mysterious, unexplained enemy you can get. Maybe people are the ones that become their own worst enemies. It’s no way to live, trapped indoors, blocking out the daylight and never seeing the sky.
There’s one excellent scene, which was maybe the first point that the book really made me unsettled (that’s the word I’d use to describe the book over scary, it’s unsettling), Felix goes out to the well. It’s a simple task, one they’ve all done numerous times, it’s only going out into the back garden. But Felix is blindfolded. Just imagine how unnerving going out into your garden blindfolded would be, even if you didn’t really think there was something out there that wanted to cause you harm? Every little sound, magnified. The mind runs away with its own paranoia.
Malorie’s parenting techniques might ruffle some feathers but she does what has to be done in her circumstances. Throughout their journey down the river, you do see moments where she really does love her children and what she has done in the past has been for their own good.
For such an atmospheric story, the ending fell a little flat for me. Well, really there’s two endings. The one of Malorie’s time in the house and the explanation of why she’s alone with her children (honestly, my mouth was open in shock). And the end to her journey down the river, which was what felt a bit anti-climactic. It’s a tricky thing to end though, and I don’t know what would have worked better, but it did take the edge off an otherwise excellent novel, a debut to boot!
Bird Box is published by Harper Voyager and will be available in a rather sexy hardback as well as ebook editions from 27th March 2014. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Shelve next to: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham + Blindness by Jose Saramago
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.