Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Rating: ★★★ | 9 hrs. 8 min. | Horror | Harper Audio | Release Date: 5/13/14

From To All The Boys I've Loved Before to Crazy Rich Asians 2018 was the year more book adaptations skyrocketed into the pop culture zeitgeist. Bird Box came on the scene at the end of the year with the popular Netflix film that spawned its own memes and challenges.

Bird Box is a 20 Minutes Into The Future post-apocalypse story where people see something outside that makes them murderous. The book begins with Malorie and two 4-year-olds leaving an empty house and getting into a boat to head down the river blindfolded. Flashbacks from four years earlier are interspersed, showing how the panic started and how Malorie got to the house.

The tension builds as we learn how Malorie and her housemates have to suddenly navigate a world blindfolded. I liked the survivalist aspects of this book, I’ve kind of gotten into books that make me wonder how long I could survive on the canned food in my house.

What was missing for me was character development. It’s revealed early on there were once other people in the house where meet Malorie but they all felt like blank slates, I couldn't tell any of them apart or what their purpose was. I don’t read much horror so I don’t know if plot over character is a convention of the genre or that is just this book.

The audiobook was done by Cassandra Campbell, I've enjoyed her in the past but this wasn't my favorite performance of hers. It felt muted and didn't fully bring me into the story.

I have watched some of the Netflix movie and I enjoyed it so much better than the book.  Sandra Bullock is great and the movie fleshes out the motivations and creates connections between the characters in a way the book never did. 

The guy who wrote Bird Box's Netflix adaptation is also writing the Leigh Bardugo Netflix series and I can’t wait to see what he does with it.  He seems to have the ability to capture the spirit of a book without making it literal.

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