Friday, June 6, 2014

Josh Malerman Closes The Bird Box

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
If you can suspend your sense of disbelief and accept the unimaginable, Bird Box by Josh Malerman will leave you mesmerized from start to finish. This gripping cross-genre thriller imagines the rapid collapse of civilization caused by a dimensional rift that allows new entities into our plane of existence.

Or, at least, that is what most people surmise. The only people who have seen them do not survive the sight of them. A single glimpse, even for a fraction of a second, will immediately drive someone insane. And, once afflicted, most set out to kill anyone within arm's reach before taking their own life.

The result is story that works across several layers of terror. Handfuls of survivors huddle together in homes with the blinds of the widows drawn shut. But even with their resolve to never peek outside, they have no choice but to remain vigilant and wary of anyone who allows their curiosity to grab hold.

In the dystopian land of the blind, a one-eyed man is a threat. 

When the strange and unforgiving events that bring down the world begin, Malorie is nothing more than a free-spritied young adult who lives with her sister in a modest rental that neither has bothered to decorate. Her biggest worry is missing a period, which is why she secretly purchased a test kit.

Had this not been the case, she would have been glued to the television much like her sister Shannon. Somewhere in Russia, a man was riding in a car being driven by a friend and asked him to pull over before attacking him. He, like several other people before, saw something before snapping.

It wasn't an isolated incident. There were others: a woman who buried her children alive, a man who attacked a filmmaker, and a woman who tried to bite as they ran by. All of them had been described as stable and sane before they saw something. Whatever it was, it was the last thing they saw sane.

Malerman reveals it all as he slowly pulls the gauze over the reader's eyes rather than removes it. At the same time he tells the story of how Malorie survived the collapse of everything, he tells the story about how she is surviving years later with not one but two children under her supervision.

With nothing left to lose, they are about to embark into the wilderness with nothing more than blindfolds for protection. The children, who she had raised on her own for years, are among the only survivors of her first sanctuary. Knowing something happened to the rest, whether they fled or were dead, is largely what generates the claustrophobic dread that permeates most of the story.

A few graphs about author Josh Malerman.

Until recently, Malerman was better known for fronting the Detroit rock band The High Strung. The band, which had toured for years and earned ink in Rolling Stone and the Los Angeles Times, still gets together to produce music and play gigs. The only thing that has changed is that their frontman has a new ambition.

Josh Malerman
He would like to be known as a Michigan horror author, especially because he loves the state despite decrying it is as a kaleidoscopic, frightening place. Fueling his imagination isn't all fiction either. As a singer, Malerman has seen his share of basements and cemeteries, band vans and underground playgrounds. All of it seems fitting for a band member, but a bit more bizarre when you step back.

Bird Box is a remarkably strong start to carve out some turf. All it requires is a small suspension of belief before you roll with a protagonist who feels especially less prepared to survive than anyone around her. It often feels like her guilt alone keeps her going.

Bird Box By Josh Malerman Shuts Out 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Bird Box is a well-crafted and taut thriller. Whereas most horror stories succeed in creating suspense because characters do  things wrong, Bird Box succeeds in its overwhelming sense of dread because there is nothing any character can do right. Every action or lack of action comes with a risk.

Bird Box: A Novel by Josh Malerman is available from Amazon. You can also download the novel for iBooks or the audiobook for iTunes. The latter is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who excels at transforming Malorie from a carefree and helpless girl into an overprotective but persistent young mother surviving the best she can. You can also find Bird Box by Josh Malerman at Barnes & Noble.
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