DNF Review: Bird Box, Josh Malerman (2014)

November 9th, 2015 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato


Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat–blindfolded–with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

(Synopsis via Goodreads.)

DNF at 48%.

The story’s premise is intriguing, but it never really takes flight. The characters are one-dimensional; the dialogue, flat; and many of the plot points and character decisions defy common sense.

Take George’s classified ad, for example. He would have had to place it before the world fell apart, when people were still showing up to work and the phone and internet were up and running. So why invite strangers into your home in lieu of friends, family, neighbors, etc.? People whose temperaments and personalities you’re at least somewhat familiar with? (Don, I’m looking at you.) And what’s so special about George’s house that it should attract people from miles away? The hydro power is a handy advantage (not mentioned in said ad, mind you), but in terms of safety, it’s not like his little slice of suburbia is any more fortified than the surrounding homes and neighborhoods. There’s no fence keeping the creatures (and marauders) out. Terminus it ain’t.

Also, during all their raids, the group has yet to find a single phone book? Really? I have asked, demanded, and begged to be removed from phone book deliveries, and yet I still have at least half a dozen of the suckers gathering dust on my bookshelves.

Incidentally, the arguments over whether nonhuman animals are intelligent enough to go insane? (Which may or may not have been settled by the fate of the guide dogs; I didn’t stick with the story long enough to find out.) Super-offensive. Nonhuman animals can ab-so-fucking-lutely suffer from mental illness, and it needn’t have a purely biological cause (like Melanie’s suggestion of rabies). Stereotypic behaviors – such as pacing, circling, bar-biting, rocking, swaying, and even self-mutilation – are well documented in captive animals, such as those confined in zoos and research facilities. Bill Travers, co-founder of the Born Free Foundation, coined the term “zoochosis” way back in 1992.

(This review is also available on Library Thing and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)


Comments (May contain spoilers!)

Diversity: Not that I noticed, though I DNF’ed at 48%.

Animal-friendly elements: Not really. See my review for more.


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