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Book Talk: Bird Box (the book) by Josh Malerman | Did you know this author sings in a rock band?

WARNING: Please remember that these Book Talks contain spoilers. I do not aim to review a book but to encourage a conversation about it. That means I'll talk about my favorite parts and unfavorite parts, INCLUDING SPOILERS.

I actually created this photo for Instagram, but I worked so hard on it I had to use it twice. Lol.

Horror and psychological thrillers are not usually on my to-read list. But movie trailers and Bird Box, the book, sitting on my library's "new" shelf put it into my life in a way I couldn't ignore. I did a quick check of average ratings, and here's what I found. Again, Goodreads has a lower rating for the book than Amazon or B&N. Must be all those picky readers out there. Lol.

Ratings
4.03 star rating on Goodreads (for the first time I noticed Goodreads rates to the 1/100th place)
4.4 star on BarnesandNoble.com
4.4 star on Amazon

Before I tell you my personal rating, I'm going to bend your ear with what I thought of the story. So here's what I liked and didn't like about the book.

Likes:
The title page!! Look at those trees!! How could I not read this?


The chapter headings were so atmospheric!

MY MOST IMPORTANT LIKE was grabbing the book off the "new" shelf at the library and knowing(!) I had to read this. The trees played an 80% part. Reading it played another 75% (that's more than 100%; I know that). When I peruse a new book to decide if I want to read it, I do several things. One is to open the book at random and start reading. When I opened Bird Box, I read this:

She feels along the branches until she finds a tank top, tied to a tree at the path's entrance. She tied it here herself more than three years ago. 
The Boy grabs hold of her pocket and she senses the Girl take hold of his. Malorie calls to them as she walks, constantly asking them if they are holding on to one another. Tree branches poke her in the face. She does not cry out. 
Soon, they arrive at the marker Malorie has stuck in the dirt. The splintered leg of a kitchen chair, stuck in the center of the path, there for her to trip on, to stumble over, to recognize.

I just love the forethought of that tank top. I can see her, scared, three years earlier, intending to some day take this grand step of leaving to find a better place. Something she had always planned to do. And now, she finally gathers the courage to go. I've known too many times what that fear feels like, wanting to do something, too scared to do it, intending to do it. And finally, one day, years later, when you realize the fear is never going to lessen, you decide you do it now or forget about it forever, and you GO! I wanted her to make it. I wanted her to face those monsters, blind as she was, and find a way through to a new life. Maybe I wanted her to die trying rather than sit in that house for another day, another month, year, too scared to try at all.

The concept of the creatures, that the human mind could not comprehend them and thus went mad, was intriguing. Some characters suggested that perhaps the creatures never meant to hurt these humans at all. For me, the concept was different than typical monster or horror tropes. I enjoyed the idea and thinking about it myself.

I loved the short chapters and the "quick" dialogue. Very short sentences created quick reading. The story flowed quickly and kept me engaged in what was happening. I felt amongst the action.

The author is a singer/songwriter for a rock band called The High Strung. I like that Josh is into two fields of art. Most people have more than one interest. You see actors getting into cooking, or businessmen into making children's toys. But people don't often present themselves as the dual personalities they are. So I liked that his bio included this tidbit.

In case you're wondering, I couldn't find any good examples of them on YouTube or I would have linked them here. I guess they're not that well-known.

I liked the fact that I was trying speculative fiction and liking it! The opportunities this genre has opened for me, for new books to like, is something I'm so happy about. I've spent the past 7 years looking for new favorites. I feel I'm onto something with this genre. I've been attracted to it before without acknowledging I was. I was too scared of potential nightmares in the past. But it's a new day, and a new night, I guess. ツ

Malorie's solo survival rowing on the river (even though it was a very small part of the book, boo!!).

I was undecided at first whether I liked or didn't like this but chose to put it in my like column: what the monsters look like, where they come from and why they're here are never revealed. I didn't think that would be a good idea (I usually dislike when stories or movies do this), but when I got to the end without knowing, I realized I was still scared of the monsters. The experience would not have been the same if all the questions had been answered. Also, near the end, Olivia looks into the face of one with awe and says, "You're so beautiful." That, along with the idea suggested earlier in the book that perhaps the monsters don't know what they're doing to the humans and were not doing it on purpose, started to create a picture of what they looked like in my mind. I had this picture for at least the last quarter of the book and whenever one was said to be near a character, I always pictured it this way. Although the question was never answered, I felt like I already knew what they looked like so it was ok. Maybe that's why I decided I would put this item into the "like" list.

Dislikes:
The FLASHBACKS! Every time I got really interested, the chapter ended and the following one went to a scene four years prior.

The tense in which it's written. Short sentences create suspense, but they can also sound like a children's story. I cracked up when a whole paragraph was filled with them. I got that "See Jane run" vibe. For your entertainment, I included an example:
Don is talking about sleeping arrangements.
Olympia is describing a tornado from her youth.
Cheryl and Felix are getting heated.
Olympia sounds a little hysterical.
Don is getting mad.
That last one got me and I about cracked up. Lol.

Nothing really happens to Malorie on the river, and that was the part I was most interested in. A crazy old man stops them. She gets slashed by a wolf. Dead birds rain down on them. One of the creatures catches up to them and almost takes M's blindfold off. Then they reach the gate where they are quickly rescued. *unfulfilled sigh*

The title did not fit the book. There is a box of birds used as an alarm system that comes late in the book. Malorie also makes the comparison that her life is like living in that bird box. For me, the comparison was too weak to warrant Bird Box being the title.

I disliked the way the flashback chapters deflated my suspense. The facts of this new world are revealed by Malorie's reliving them. That means they're told to me in story form. I would have preferred clues be dropped in the present that I, as the reader, could pick up and piece together to unravel the mystery of these creatures.

My Rating
I gave Bird Box a 3 star rating on Goodreads. That sounds a little low for as many likes as I listed. The points I disliked were important enough for me to bring the rating to a three instead of a four. However, I still really love the book, in spite of my rating. I think I like it at a four but rate my expectations vs. outcome at a three.

So that's it! Thanks for reading Book Talk today. Because I've read Bird Box, the book, I'm now considering watching the movie. Have you seen the movie or read the book? What did you think? Which did you like better? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you. I'll see you next Wednesday for another blog post or connect with me on:

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Though Bird Box is Josh's debut novel, he has written 5+ more. You can check them out here.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (2015, Paperback)
Bird Box
A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman (English) Paperback Book Free S
A House at the Bottom of a Lake
Malerman Josh-Black Mad Wheel BOOK NEW
Black Mad Wheel

Inspection: A Novel by Josh Malerman (2019, Hardcover)
Inspection
Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman (English) Paperback Book Free Shipping!
Unbury Carol
Buy the movie.
Bird Box (DVD, 2018) A NetFlix Movie
Bird Box, the movie

You can follow Josh on Goodreads or check out his website.

Remember to check out great, low-priced eBooks on Smashwords.com as well.

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