Bird Box By Josh Malerman

Bird Box
Bird Box

Book Details

Book NameBird Box
AuthorJosh Malerman
Item Weight 7.2 ounces
Hardcover272 pages
Lexile MeasureHL520L
Product Dimensions0.9 x 5.2 x 7.8 inches
PublisherEcco; Reprint Edition (February 10, 2015)
Best Sellers Rank#15,987 in Books
#391 in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
#1,031 in Horror Literature & Fiction
#1,102 in Family Life Fiction

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Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.


The book takes place in the present day, and two previous periods are revealed in flashback sequences. The story is told from the perspective of the main character, Malorie. This synopsis is in chronological order.

The Problem

Upon discovering her pregnancy, Malorie is unable to contact her one-night stand. She initially dismisses international news reports of people going mad shortly after seeing “something” outside. These people are considered to have been infected by what they saw and will brutally attack others before killing themselves. As the occurrences spread, they’re believed to be caused by “creatures” and the situation referred to as “The Problem.”

Malorie is forced to strike out on her own after her sister Shannon becomes infected and kills herself. Malorie eventually meets and shelters with other survivors: Jules (and his border collie, Victor), Felix, Tom, Don, Cheryl, and later Olympia, who, like Malorie, is about four months pregnant. They spend their days sequestered inside of their shelter, only going outside blindfolded to seek out food and supplies. Tom tells Malorie the original owner, George, attempted to find out if the creatures would not affect you if seen another way, so he filmed a window but still brutally killed himself while watching the tape.

Eventually, Tom and Jules search the neighboring houses for supplies, but also for dogs they can train to guide them while they’re blindfolded as Jules doesn’t want to risk Victor. They find two huskies and some birds kept in a box that coo when people approach. They hang the bird box by their front door as an alarm system. They also discovered someone set up a tent in the middle of the street in front of their house.

After months of isolation, they reluctantly take in a new survivor, Gary. He claims he left the previous house he was at because a man named Frank, who had been a recluse obsessed with writing in journals and believed The Problem was caused by mass hysteria, had uncovered all the windows and opened the doors to prove this “insanity fuss” was all an illusion. Gary and Don become friends, but Gary only talks about Frank’s ideology. It’s soon revealed that Gary has “Frank”‘s journal which he had said “Frank” kept, so he is evicted, only for Don to secretly keep him in the shelter’s basement.

He remains hidden until Olympia and Malorie go into labor, at which point Don and Gary expose everyone to the creatures. Gary sneaks into the room Malorie and Olympia are in to taunt them, explaining the tent in the street was his because he liked to watch the creatures, while they listen to the others kill each other downstairs. Only Malorie and the two infants, a boy, and a girl survive as Malorie managed to block their sight. Prior to hanging herself with an umbilical cord while Gary was laughing, Olympia comments that the creatures are “beautiful” and “not bad at all”. Shortly after that, the creature descends the stairs followed by Gary, who is never to be seen again.

Once again alone, Malorie becomes resigned to the reality that she will have to raise the children by herself. Her only possible beacon of hope is a phone call from a survivor named Rick, who tells her about a self-contained refuge without any windows. He invites them to travel to the refuge via boat but warns her that the journey will require her to remove her blindfold once.

After the birth

As she raises them Malorie subjects the children to harsh training in order to ensure their survival, heightening their senses and training them to automatically keep their eyes closed. The children are only referred to as “Girl” and “Boy”, as she feels that names are an unnecessary luxury. During this time Malorie keeps Jules’ pet dog, Victor, who survived Gary’s attack while locked in the basement. She follows Tom’s belief that animals are immune to the Problem, only for this to be proven false when Victor goes mad and kills himself after seeing a creature. Malorie also discovers a rowboat and begins planning for the inevitable trek to Rick’s haven.


Eventually, the day comes for the trio to make the journey when the children are four years old. Malorie chooses this day because there is a heavy fog she thinks will hide their escape in case Gary still watches the house. Malorie inwardly expresses regret over all of the experiences and sights that the children have missed but knows that it was necessary for their survival. Instructing them to follow her orders and to never remove their blindfolds regardless of what happens, Malorie and the children travel down the river. As they are rowing they come across a person who tries to convince them to remove their blindfolds in order to see the “beautiful” creature, however, they ignore him and continue along their journey.

When she hears the signal to temporarily remove her blindfold, the Boy says something is walking through the river toward them. The creature pulls at her blindfold, but then releases it and leaves them. Malorie is terrified to remove the blindfold but knows that it’s necessary to see which split of the river to take. Briefly marveling at sights previously denied due to the Problem, Malorie navigates down the correct path and replaces the blindfold. Eventually, they make it to the refuge, originally a school for the blind, where they are met by blind Rick, a sighted Constance, and dozens of other people who have blinded themselves to remain unaffected. Now certain in their safety, Malorie finally allows herself to name the children.


Critical reception for Bird Box has been positive and Malerman has received comparisons to Stephen King and Jonathan Carroll. Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club gave the book a B rating, writing “Malerman overreaches a bit in his debut, which could use as much attention to the cast as to the mood, but the mood is chillingly effective. Reading it feels like accepting a dare to walk into a strange place, eyes closed, with no idea who, or what might be reaching out to make contact.”

Malerman wrote the rough draft of Bird Box prior to the release of the 2008 M. Night Shyamalan film The Happening and the 2009 film The Road (although the novel The Road was written in 2006), which caused him to worry that the book “might get lost in the shuffle.”

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Malorie, a young mother of two children known simply as Boy and Girl, is a survivor living in a post-apocalyptic world, raising her children to use all their senses, especially their listening skills, as sight is not an option here. In this world, the survivors struggle to stay alive by living indoors with all the windows boarded up. The sight of whatever is outside is causing people to become violent murderers, as well as suicidal, in the most horrific ways possible. The book moves back and forth over a four-year period when all the insanity began, exploring the personalities of the people that came together and survived and how they managed to live after all forms of communication effectively withered and died with most of the population. The characters are involving, the story moves along very rapidly as the suspense builds, but unfortunately, the ending is a disappointment. The reason for all the bloodshed is never explored or explained. Still, recommend this one to readers who enjoy a blend of horror and post-apocalyptic fiction. –Stacy Alesi


“A book that demands to be read in a single sitting, and through the cracks between one’s fingers. There has never been a horror story quite like this. Josh Malerman truly delivers.” (―Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool)

“This completely compelling novel contains a thousand subtle touches but no mere flourishes-it is so well, so efficiently, so directly written I read it with real admiration. Josh Malerman does the job like a fast-talking, wised-up angel.” -Peter Straub (―Peter Straub)

“[A] chilling debut… Malerman…keeps us tinglingly on edge with his cool, merciless storytelling [and] douses his tale in poetic gloom….An unsettling thriller, this earns comparisons to Hitchcock’s The Birds, as well as the finer efforts of Stephen King and cult sci-fi fantasist Jonathan Carroll.” (―Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“The author uses understatement and allusion to create a lean, spellbinding thriller that Stephen King fans will relish.” (―Publishers Weekly (starred review))

From the Back Cover

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but Malorie’s wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

About the Author

Josh Malerman is the acclaimed author of Bird Box, as well as the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The High Strung. He lives in Michigan.