Everyone wants to join a book club so I have created ‘Conversations with Ruth’ a Bookclub with a difference!
Different because – each month Ruth’s Choice will surprise you, maybe extend you and might not be what you would read but…
So why would not a reader read wide and far so as to gain a wisdom that might otherwise be found!’
Join me each month and participate though discussion, Q&A and a swapping of ideas too!
Ruth’s April’s Choice – ‘The Bird Box’ by Josh Malerman
Read what is on the back cover:
“Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors
The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows.
They are out there.
The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall.
Soon she will have to wake them.
Soon she will have to blind fold them.
Today they will chance it.
Today they must leave the house…”
Josh Malerman’s debut novel, BIRD BOX, is a wholly original, gripping study of fear and its manifestations. It is also a story of courage and discovering the endurance to protect those you love
Perusing in a local book store I saw ‘The Bird Box’ and picked it up as the cover, as well as the title, was a magnet for my curiosity. Straight away I was captured by the words on the back (see above) so decided to purchase it – and boy am I glad that I did! Once I started reading I could not put it down and when I had finished it I said, ” What have I just read?” I immediately went back and re-read the book again but this time more slowly.
‘The Bird Box’ is a book that deals with ‘post-acpocalyptic’ world but is so very different from any other speculative fiction that I have read before (and being a ‘fan’ of science fiction/fantasy I have read many) not only due to the plot but the it slowly catches the reader building towards an ending that is not only a surprise but leaves the reader wondering…!
The story opens with Malorie, a young woman, waking up and deciding that today is the day she take the ‘plunge’ and row twenty miles down the river, with her two young children, to try to reach other survivors but, she would be blindfolded! After reading these opening words I said “What is going on? Survivors…? Why row and not walk twenty miles and to where? Why must she be blindfolded? What has happened and why is she a survivor and of what?”
I was thoroughly hooked!
The story continues, but set five years before somewhere in Russia, with two men in a car. The passenger asks the driver to pull over and when he does murders him before killing himself. This is only the beginning… before long many such stories start appearing in the news of similar happenings but with the perpetrator always killing themselves before anyone can find out why. These events spread not only outside of Russia but to the United States as well. People are dumbfounded and more paranoid theories abound but with no answers! Soon there are fewer and fewer people.
The only common theme is that those who have perpetrated such acts had opened their eyes… outside!
Malorie, who is pregnant, loses her family, friends and everyone else she knew and due to circumstances ends up in a house with strangers! Other people who have survived but for how long? This is where the story becomes an eddy going so fast that it is non-stop!
‘Felix is taking the path towards the well. One of the housemates’ six buckets hangs from his right hand. It’s the wood one…..
The rope is tied around his waist. The other end of it is tied to a steel stake in the dirt, just outside the home’s back door… He is blindfolded. The pieces of old picture frames that outline the path let him know if he’s walking too far to one side or another…
‘I’m at the well, Jules! Securing the bucket now.’
Jules isn’t the only one waiting for Felix. Cheryl is behind the closed back door of the house. She is standing in the kitchen, listening through the door. The housemate who waits inside the kitchen is only there in case something goes wrong outside. She is hoping her role as a ‘safety net’ won’t mean anything today…
His hands free, he wipes them on his jeans…
Then he hears something move out here.
Turning his head quickly Felix raises his hands in front of his face. But nothing happens. Nothing comes at him…
Felix listens…. ‘
The book has two interweaving plots – we read about the:
- Malorie of today as she navigates the river with her two children (all of them blindfolded) with two small blindfolded children and
- Malorie of the past where she waits to give birth then, we move back to the present, on the river.
With each ‘forwards and backwards’ – from the river to the house, the pace gets faster!
The reader will be engulfed in the pace and when that horrific night comes as the babies are born and Malorie is left alone with two newborn children the horror of what options are left makes you gasp!
What happens to the other survivors and why is Malorie the only adult left alone ?
Simultaneously, the story keeps moving on the river involving the creatures, a madman and even wild nature!
What would happen to Malorie, the children and why do they need to keep their eyes shut or be blindfolded…?
The narrative was full of fear and tension in both of the story lines and I felt that I was experiencing just what Malorie was but… I knew that I was safe whereas… she was not!
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bird Box and look forward to seeing what Josh Malerman does in the future.
Questions for you to think about and respond to:
- Do you think Malorie might have been tempted to look…?
- How hard do you think it was for the children?
- How terrified would you be if it was you on the river and what would you do?
- What or who do you think the ‘creatures’ were in the book?
I hope that you enjoy ‘The Bird Box’ as much as I did and look forward to you joining me in a discussion – do add some of your own questions, theories and ideas as well!
Watch out for May’s Choice – Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey