I saw a lot about Bird Box around its release, bought it in a Kindle sale at some point and then forgot that I eveFirst published at Lit Addicted Brit
I saw a lot about Bird Box around its release, bought it in a Kindle sale at some point and then forgot that I even owned it. Then one morning, I woke up early and couldn't read my current physical book because it was dark and I'm kind enough that I didn't want to bash on a lamp while Boyfriend was sleeping. So I picked up my Kindle, flicked through the many books on there and went for this, drawn back in by the cover tagline "If you've seen them, it's already too late".
I wanted a thriller but I was very ill-prepared for just how dark this book was going to be. Well, I suppose less how dark it was going to be than how gruesome. The premise is fairly simple: the world is under threat from some being that, when seen by humans, makes those humans kill those around them before ultimately killing themselves. The narrative is split between two main threads: one in the present where Malorie is alone in a house struggling to survive with two children, unable to go outside but desperate to brave it in the hope that she'll be able to find some kind of life for her little family and one in the past that starts with news reports of the phenomenon and Malorie finding out that she's pregnant and shows the world gradually unravelling from there.
I think what makes this book different from other dystopian fiction is that readers never find out exactly what is causing the implosion of the human race. There are theories about what it is (including a fascinating one that there is in fact nothing at all causing the deaths other than mass hysteria and delusion) but, given that everybody who has seen it has died, nothing concrete. It's one of those stories that relies on readers' imaginations to fill the gaps about what terrifying vision might be stalking the streets. And my goodness does it work. There are moments where characters are blindfolded and fetching water or something from outside and they're plagued by images of what might be lurking just beyond their blindfold and the terror as they start to imagine something touching them and gradually descend into panic feels so real. It perfectly conveys that feeling when you walk into a pitch black room and have that fleeting "But what if…?" thought and suddenly have to get a light on.
The novel also manages to touch on the social impact of strangers being forced to rely on each other to survive, the plight of being torn between the desire to help save others and saving yourself and it all feels very (worryingly) realistic. The ending isn't exactly definitive but it worked for me and even while it introduced a whole host of new moral quandaries, it did wrap up the story enough and didn't feel as though Malerman had just got bored and stopped writing.
I really, really liked this book. It was terrifying and it was brutal but it was completely gripping. I like stories that are told through flashbacks and this one uses the technique particularly well. You know what's coming (in a way) but I was still completely astonished when it came to the point of actually getting there. Bird Box won't be for everyone because it doesn't shy away from some very raw and gory details of people's demises (particular warning to those who especially don't want to read about violence/death of animals). There was a scene in particular towards the end that really freaked me out and that made me feel physically ill so even if it's by no means a pleasant read, it is a hell of a gut-punching one.
Overall: With the benefit of hindsight, I can say that I'd definitely recommend Josh Malerman's debut. While I was reading it, I alternated between fervent hope for characters, disgust and all sorts of other over-wrought emotional states. It was a trying time but one I'd say is worth inflicting on yourself. It actually looks as though HarperCollins will be publishing Malerman's second novel, Black Mad Wheel, later this year and I'll definitely be picking up a copy when it's out....more
The first volume of this series was actually the first comic book volume that I ever read and I loved it so I was curious to see how the second volumeThe first volume of this series was actually the first comic book volume that I ever read and I loved it so I was curious to see how the second volume would fare now that I have a bit more graphic experimentation under my belt. I was pretty jet-lagged when I finally picked it up and although it didn't quite manage to stave off the dreaded mid-afternoon sleep, it did a much better job than I expected and than a lesser volume might have done.
Where the first volume takes place in New York and focuses on those of the Fable outcasts that can blend into modern society, this volume features more of 'Animal Farm', the residence of the talking animals and other creatures that even the more ignorant humans might spot as out of the ordinary. It's brilliant. It exposes the conflicts between factions of the human Fables and the non-human Fables and the impact that might have on the overall community. The story reveals something deeper and darker lurking behind the 'fairytale heroes trying to make it in the big city' front. The characters are still as strong as ever (I *love* the Snow White/Rose Red sister dynamic) and the series continues to be just the right amount of dark that it's just possible to offset the sense of impending doom with wry humour. Meeting new characters and getting to play 'Guess the Fairytale' is as good as ever, too. I can see why this series has continued to maintain its popularity despite the pretty epic number of volumes. I already have the third volume and then this series will become the series into which I have read the furthest to date! My relationship with Fables is seemingly all about the meaningless accolades.
4 out of 5 stars for the black humour, the twisted versions of my favourite fairytale characters and just generally being my favourite comic series that I've read so far...more