Thoughts on “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE NOVEL. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK OR WISH TO DO SO IN THE FUTURE. 

You can find a synopsis here.

This was recommended by “ChapterStackss” of BookTube as one of her favorite horror novels so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I am so glad I did.

It’s difficult to pick a topic in this book for discussion. It was so mouth-wateringly good I’m left babbling incoherently.

I’ve decided to break up my thoughts into pieces so it’s less of a jumble.

The Plot

One aspect of this novel that I love is it turns traditional horror on its head. The darkness is the protagonist’s greatest defense against the enemy rather than a means for the main baddy to attack.

They aren’t afraid of what will happen to them when they close their eyes, but rather when they open them.

If this is meant to be a metaphor for truth, infinity, or whatever it’s done a lot more effectively than in any other novel that I’ve read.

I still can’t get over how exceptionally well paced this piece is. No chapter seems too long or too short. They all seem to be exactly as they need to be.

The Creatures 

Frigging finally.

A horror writer has created a new monster.

It’s not that traditional monsters like ghosts and zombies aren’t scary, it’s just that they’ve been done  to death at this point.

Especially zombies.

Don’t get me started on zombies.

ghosts-gespenter-spooky-horror-40748-large

My favorite theory as to what these things are is George’s: these beings are from another dimension that is bleeding into ours. Because our bubbles were never supposed to merge, it’s too much for our brains to handle.

Maybe these things are us from another dimension!

We never find out.

I realize there is more fear in the unknown, so revealing what these things are would ruin a lot of the intrigue, but I really want to know. I want to shake down the writer and demand he tell me.

Regardless, the mystery of these beings forces the reader to devise their own explanation. This makes the threat as psychological as it is physical.

There are no silver bullets or wooden stakes to defeat them. Humans can only take preventative measures to make sure they aren’t driven to madness.

Blindfolded 

In my opinion, one of the things that makes this book so great is how atmospheric it is. Since the characters are often blindfolded, the narrative is mostly told through sounds and senses.

The monsters are represented in the crunching of leaves, the sudden footstep, the screaming of the birds.

Even in silence.

The characters hear the monster.

They sense it’s presence.

But they can never know what one looks like because no one that has spotted one  has lived to tell about it. Except Gary. Screw Gary.

I just love the image of Malorie and her two children rowing down a river where they can see nothing. They’re surrounded on all sides by possible dangers: deranged animals, madmen, and the elements.

pexels-photo-69439-medium

Malorie is completely reliant on the superpowered hearing of the children who can detect any noise from a great distance away. She’s trained them since birth to do this and some of the things they hear are chilling.

The Characters 

If I have one nitpick about this book it’s that some of them are not as fleshed out as others. Nevertheless, I still think I have a rough idea of who they are as people.

My favorite characters have to be Malorie and Tom.

Malorie was a great character because she had to worry about the life of her baby as well as herself. Once her child and Olympia’s child are born, she demonstrates an astounding amount of resilience as well as humanity. She breaks down, she makes mistakes, she second-guesses almost everything she does. She’s a great protagonist all around.

It’s hard not to like Tom since he has the most backstory aside from Malorie. He’s a great leader and loves everyone under his charge. I was unsurprised, but sad when he died.

The only characters I actively dislike are Don and Gary.

Especially Gary.

I wish he’d gotten his come uppins in the end, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Character Relationships

These characters don’t operate as typical base-under-siege stereotypes.

While there is some tension between them at some points, their relationship with each other is mostly harmonious. They act as a family throughout and genuinely care about one another.

Even though Malorie is giving birth in unendurable agony and knows that Don is betraying them as she speaks, she still loves him like a brother and wants someone to help him because he’s losing his mind.

That is some serious character development.

And there are no unnecessary romances.

I think Malorie has romantic feelings for Tom, but this is implied rather than shoved in the reader’s face.

The Ending

I’m actually surprised this book ended with Malorie and her children being found by a group of refugees.

I thought it was going to conclude with her seeing one of the creatures and killing the children before committing suicide.

Am I a sadist for being just a pinch disappointed this didn’t happen? My logic is we would have finally found out what these things are. We’d get an intimate look into what people that see them go through on a personal level.

On the other hand, the girl probably deserves a hopeful ending after all the crap she’s had to survive through.

I don’t reread books very often, but I may make an exception for Bird Box. 

black-and-white-bird-birdcage-cage-medium

Thoughts on “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry”

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE NOVEL. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Synopsis can be found here.

Positives: 

It has a unique premise. There aren’t enough stories about grandparents and their grandchildren. I think this is a shame since they often share such a strong bond and I, personally, have nothing but love for mine.

I love Granny! Granny was the rockstar of the whole novel, even though she died towards the beginning. I desperately want a prequel that follows Granny’s life and misadventures. They gave her a lot of backstory, but the character-writer in me was drooling for more. I saw the author wrote another book about Britt-Marie, who was way less interesting, so why not write one for old Granny as well? Based on what he’s created for her, he has material for days

It references Harry Potter and the X-men shamelessly. I loved Elsa’s obsession with stories, particularly Harry Potter. She wears a Gryffindor scarf all the time which says a lot about her character. She believes in heroes like Harry and wants to become one herself.

The characters were memorable. I wouldn’t say they popped off the page, but they each had depth and a sympathetic side. Even the ones that Elsa (and I) found the most annoying. I’d have to say Elsa’s mom is my second favorite character. She’s just too cool and it was fun seeing her Granny side come out when she was giving birth to Halfie. Elsa’s dad was so lame and Type A, he made me laugh.

It had a satisfying conclusion that saw a fitting end for each character that lived in Elsa’s building. Some people might think the Epilogue went on for too long, describing the things that happened to everyone, but I liked knowing their happy endings. 

Negatives:

Elsa was way too smart for a 7 year-old. Yes, I get that she’s supposed to be precocious for her age, but in many places the writer pushed my ability to suspend disbelief.

The repetition got old after a while. Sometimes it was cute and gave the piece symmetry. But after chapters and chapters of it, I got tired of hearing the same lines being repeated ad nauseam like “she hated him for that” or “she loved her for that.” I also got bored of hearing about Britt-Marie’s floral print jacket. It’s cool. You don’t have to remind us she wears that everyday. We get it. 

Seriously, Elsa-

giphy

……Sorry,  I had to do that at least once.

The villain wasn’t really present for most of the story. I liked the idea of Sam, the abusive father to the boy with the syndrome, but I wished we’d seen more of him. He was characterized as a Shadow most of the time, which is why I think he didn’t have any speaking parts. Perhaps it shouldn’t bother me this much that he didn’t have anything to say. I just thought it would make him more human, which is what the point of the book is.

It’s like Granny said, no one is a complete shit or not a complete shit. We all have a little shit inside of us.

Or something to that effect.

Overall, I thought it was a good read. I recommend it to anyone that believes in the magic of imagination and a grandmother’s love.