Bird Box

From the very first pages of his debut novel, Josh Malerman drops readers into a world both familiar and terrifying: "The children sleep under chicken wire draped in black cloth down the hall.... This was once a nice house in a nice suburb of Detroit.... But this morning, the windows are covered with cardboard and wood. There is no running water.... They do not go outside for long periods of time. When they do, they are blindfolded." Artfully playing on our fear of the unknown, Malerman defines a world in which something has arrived on Earth--something that, when one looks upon it, causes instant madness and deadly violence. The few remaining survivors have largely hidden indoors, sheltered behind closed doors and curtained windows. Venturing outside requires extreme caution and a covering over the eyes.

Written in the present tense, the chapters toggle between the movements of Malorie and her two young children throughout one very long and scary day navigating a 20-mile river trip while blindfolded and Malorie's memories of the last half-decade that led up to that day. Although graphic in some spots, most of the page-turning tension is produced by what is not seen, but heard and felt and imagined as Malerman explores the world of the senses and the way humans interact with one another when trapped in a house together for a long period. Be prepared to read this in one sitting. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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