Bird Box: an International Phenomenon – but is it Good? (Feature)

Image courtesy of Ecco

Bird Box is a suspenseful, horrifying thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I was immediately captivated by the story from the very first page, and I could not resist reading this entire book in one sitting.

We are introduced to Malorie, a mother of two young children, who will do whatever it takes to protect them from the terrifying creatures that cause people to go insane upon looking at them. This means that Malorie and the children must remain blindfolded at all times no matter the circumstances they face.

Bird Box is told from the perspective of Malorie and invites readers into her life as the strange happenings start to occur; during the events as they unfold; and also on her journey out into the world to protect her children. A difficult journey that is just that much more haunting because they must make it blind, Bird Box is a page-turner that keeps your heart pounding and your mind racing. The author Josh Malerman lives in Michigan and he is a singer/songwriter for the band High Strung. Bird Box has also been adapted into a movie, now available on Netflix.

Jennifer’s Goodreads review from December 23rd, 2018

SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read/watched Bird Box, proceed with caution.

I recently read Bird Box by Josh Malerman and then watched the movie on Netflix. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by both. I am not usually a fan of book-to-movie adaptations, but I feel as though Bird Box is a rare exception.

I read the book prior to watching the movie, as always, to ensure that I can picture the characters, environment, and atmosphere on my own without having the movie’s visuals already in my mind. The movie does a phenomenal job at capturing the storyline of the book and keeps viewers entertained until the credits roll, just as the book keeps readers enthralled until the very last page.

The post-apocalyptic feel is well-maintained in both the novel and the film, and they both offer the gritty dark side that comes with any truly dystopian world. However, as with any adaptation, there are some differences. For example, the original Bird Box takes place in Detroit while the movie takes place in California; the timeline of the virus, Malorie’s pregnancy, and her relationship with her sister Jessica are also more prominent in the book. In addition, Jessica’s death is very different and takes place at home, forcing Malorie to come to terms with her sister’s death and the fact that she is secluded, pregnant, and must now fend for herself and her unborn baby on her own. Survival is directly placed on her shoulders.

Poster courtesy of Netflix

Another noteworthy change is that, in the book, Malorie must make her way out into the world to find safety, offering readers their first glimpse into the apocalyptic setting partway through the novel, whereas in the movie Malorie and Jessica are outside among others when chaos ensues. Viewers are then treated to a stunning visual of the world ending as we know it, while readers are offered a slow build-up as the story unfolds. Such attests to the difference between audiences; while readers often prefer an evenly paced narrative, film-goers prefer instant gratification. Both versions possess merit, but I personally preferred the book’s lead-up.

I especially enjoyed Malorie having to become a survivor. In the movie, Malorie is immediately provided with assistance and welcomed into a safe house, whereas in the book things transpire solely based upon her decisions. In the book, we see how Malorie and her housemates survive and adapt to the post-apocalyptic way of life; there is one particular scene where they try to obtain water from a well that offers readers an exciting and heart-pounding view into the dark world of Bird Box. Also, in the book we see the importance of the birds and how they relate to the story. The movie does a wonderful job of capturing the journey of Malorie, Boy, and Girl as they try to make their way to the Sanctuary. In the movie they leave the boat and wander into the woods, whereas in the book, the journey takes place in the boat. Both adaptations offer a unique perspective, fitting for its particular storyline.

The conclusion of the story differs in the movie and, while I won’t give anything away, I will warn potential readers who saw the film first that the book’s finale is much darker, as we learn a little more history as to how the Sanctuary came to be. I would personally recommend both the book and the movie, as they both offer an edge-of-your-seat, intense, mind-bending experience for readers and viewers alike.

Copies of Bird Box can be purchased at bookstores everywhere, and the film is available with a Netflix subscription. For more of Jennifer’s reviews and great book recommendations, be sure to follow her on Goodreads.

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