Author: Josh Malerman
Released: March 27th 2014
Warnings: Animal death, graphic injuries and deaths, child death, suicides
I’m a bit behind on the times here, but I finally got around to reading Bird Box by Josh Malerman. As a rule, when I hear about a movie coming out based on a novel, but I have not read the novel, I wait. I’ve learned the hard way that usually I’m happier seeing the movie first and then reading the novel. I’m sure that anybody who experiences the pain of watching a novel they love to get turned into a subpar movie knows exactly what I mean by that. I can’t help it with the books I’ve already read, but there’s no need to heap onto that pain.
So I watched Bird Box first. I enjoyed it, even. But I was still curious about the novel. I’d seen people in the book groups I’m part of saying that both were good, but they were also both very different from one another (I pictured something like how World War Z is completely different between the two versions).
Having read and watched Bird Box, I agree with that assessment. To an extent. There was a lot more in common between the two than I expected. I wouldn’t say that normally, but since I went into the novel expecting something almost completely different, I was surprised by how many elements were kept the same, or at least similar. But I’ll go into that in more detail down below, for sake of spoilers.
Warnings: Bird Box has a lot of graphic deaths and injuries. That’s probably an obvious statement, by now. But better safe than sorry. The deaths look and seem like suicides, except the people committing them don’t really seem to be themselves. There are also a lot of animal deaths in this novel. I was surprised by that, given that the animals in the movie were fine. That is absolutely not the case for the novel. Consider yourself warned.
Bird Box was a fascinating and chilling read. It’s fast-paced and perfect for anyone looking for a dark thriller. It’s also post-apocalyptic, and one could argue a bit of a fantasy novel as well. Depending on how you want to look at the cause of events here.
It doesn’t explain what precisely is going on, during the pages of the story, but it doesn’t really need to either. Sure, it’d be nice to have some answers, but it isn’t required. If anything, never knowing the true cause or what the entities are just further added to the tension of the novel. It’s unlikely that Malerman will come out with a sequel for Bird Box since it seems like he told the story he intended. However, by not telling us the cause he’s left the door open to revisit the subject at his leisure.
It’s been a long time since I’ve found a dark thriller that I was able to really sink my teeth into. That’s partially my fault – I haven’t been looking very hard for them. So I’m glad that the hype from Bird Box was enough to get me to read it. I’m even happier that it lived up to my expectations.
There were some tough scenes, understandably. But they were all pretty well written. I’ll confess that I found the scene with Victor to be especially difficult, but that was mostly because it was completely unexpected. The rest of the tough scenes gave a bit more warning. Not much, admittedly. But enough where I was able to steel myself for them.
For me, the biggest difference between the book and the movie had to be the amount of animal death in the book. (Spoiler warning here) In the movie, it seemed like the animals were immune to whatever the cause of the epidemic was. At the very least, we knew that the birds were since they were used as an early warning system. In the novel that is absolutely not the case. No animals are immune, not even birds.
There were other differences as well, but most of the changes were made to have Malorie participate more in the plot. That does admittedly make for a better movie, so I get why those changes were made.
I’m happy that I took the time to finally read Bird Box. Part of me wishes that I had been more on top of things, and had read it closer to its release date. But it is what it is, right? At the very least I can say that I felt like it was worth the wait, and had honestly earned most of the hype it’s received.