When the post-apocalyptic novel Bird Box was published in 2014, the American novelist, writer, singer, and songwriter Josh Malerman was still under the radar from most horror stories fans such as I. It did not take long for the author to rise to the top, receiving comparisons to the great Stephen King. The supernatural thriller Bird Box follows the story of a woman named Malorie who wishes to protect her children from hellish supernatural creatures who render anyone who looks at them insane, killing themselves. It was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First novel, as well as the James Herbert Award in 2015, and won the Michigan Notable Book Award, also in 2015. So, it was no surprise that in 2018, Bird Box was put on the Big Screen, having its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 12th, 2018, and streamed worldwide on Netflix on December 21st, 2018. With casting names like Sandra Bullock as Malorie, and John Malkovich, the movie quickly rose to the top with 26 million viewers in its first seven days of release in the United States.
Even with its popularity and great critics, most readers were not expecting the bombshell Malerman dropped on his fanbase in March of 2019; a sequel to the book titled Malorie. The writer had not thought about a sequel until after viewing the Netflix adaptation of Bird Box with his fiancée when she asked him what would happen to Malorie. And so, he began to write. The novel was released July 21st, 2020, and I can only describe it as a binge-worthy success.
Malorie starts off where Bird Box left us, at the Jane Tucker School for the Blind. The very tense scene shows that Malorie and her 6-year-old children had been there for two years, but now must leave in a hurry after all hell breaks loose. The time frame skips, and we find Malorie and her children, now 10 years older, having found refuge, a home for themselves, at an abandoned Jewish Summer Camp. They still live by the blindfold. As Malorie constantly tells her children the rules ‘’Don’t get lazy. Don’t take off your blindfold. AND DON’T LOOK.’’, the twins now have grown into 16-year-old teenagers with each their own personality. It is increasingly hard to keep the world hidden from the defiant boy, Tom, who wishes to push against the paranormal entities, but she gets some respite from her daughter, Olympia, who is living by her mother’s rules. However, it is quickly mentioned that although obedient, the girl keeps secrets from her mother.
All through the book, we follow the three through their own perspectives, an odd world in which the fear of darkness has been broken. Now, blindfolds on, eyes closed, the darkness is a safe haven against the unknown beings. Malorie grows weary of her son’s tentative rebellions and inventions aimed to fight against the creatures, wanting to keep her children safe and inside as much as possible. Of course, there is no hiding the fact that 16-year-olds will cause some mischief at some point, and definitely so in a novel. From chapter one, Malerman effectively captures the essence of the family’s chemistry, and has us needing to turn the pages through every chapter’s ends.
As I turned the pages, the clock ticked, time passed, and suddenly, I was done. The 300-page book seemed like it was only 100 as I devoured every single word printed in the book. Josh Malerman tells stories with such devotion to his characters that you can feel yourself being in the same room as them, every step of the way. The book was an extremely easy read, a thriller seeking and goosebumps-inducing ride into this post-apocalyptic world, where unseen creatures roam freely, and humans now live in constant fear and hiding.
If one critic can be given, it is that I was left the same way I was with Bird Box: wanting more. I found the ending of the book was too short, too fast. A good ending, but one that could have been more in-depth to be able to explain the choices done by each character towards the end of the book. Perhaps a deeper look into each character’s heads that could lead to wanting even more of the book. Hopefully, Malerman will deliver with a third story following the events in Malorie, but one thing for sure, is that he has confirmed that a movie is in the works. Although movies often do not reflect kindly to the books, I am looking forward to seeing the story on screen until perhaps my wishes do come true, and a third novel will be released.
One can only hope.
If you loved Bird Box, you will enjoy Malorie. And if you are in need of more Josh Malerman works, please do check out ‘’Unbury Carol’’ and ‘’A House at the Bottom of a Lake’’, two of my favorites from the same author.
Just don’t read the latter at night, alone. Unless you don’t want to sleep.
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