Malorie: Josh Malerman
Reviewed By The Grim Reader
Josh Malerman soared high with the enthralling, tension-filled Bird Box back in 2015. So, what do you do when a book becomes a smash hit, gets picked up by Netflix and becomes even more successful? You write a sequel, that’s what! Birds of Prey.
The Grim Reader was knocked for six when he read Bird Box. Reading with little knowledge of the plot and ignoring reviews by trusted reviewers/friends meant my journey with Malorie and two young children through a treacherous landscape inhabited by maddening creatures was all the more enjoyable (in a post-apocalyptic kind of way). My success with Bird Box was down to its engaging lead characters and the fear of not knowing.
Some readers felt short-changed by Bird Box because Malorie never actually saw the “creatures” that turned people into raving lunatics. For me, this was a masterstroke. I don’t like being spoon-fed stories. There is nothing worse than your imagination sitting idle because the author is telling you everything. I’m pretty sure Josh Malerman knows this, and so he doesn’t shake things up a great deal with Malorie (Bird Box #2).
Set some years later, Malorie, Tom (boy in the first book) and Olympia (girl from book 1) are older and wiser. A surprise visit from a stranger one day leads the three on a journey to find Malorie’s parents. And that’s Malorie in a nutshell-nothing genre-breaking, another torturous trip similar to the first book takes place only with new characters thrown into the mix. Still, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
There’s a strange relationship dynamic between Malorie and the children. Malorie feels more battle-hardened, and Tom and Olympia are growing up fast, Tom showing signs of teenage rebellion. He believes that surviving isn’t enough. He wants to make a difference, he wants to live. Olympia feels more grounded and happier to follow Malorie’s lead. The path their relationship takes is perhaps a tad cliché, but still enjoyable and engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in the first novel and did so again here.
That fear of not knowing is still prevalent. I love that Malerman chose this path, I would’ve probably hated the book had he described the creatures in detail. There is still the tension that exists in Bird Box, though it’s a little watered down, not because of bad writing, simply because we’ve been there before, we’ve experienced it already. Still, Malorie is a gripping read at times.
The pacing is excellent, Malorie’s introspective moments don’t slow things down enough to warrant the mind to wander, and the ending is satisfying. The highlight for me was the blind train. I wish more pages were given to it, and I felt a couple of the characters on board could’ve used more page space, too, but this is a minor quibble.
Like Bird Box, Malorie is incredibly far-fetched, and some coincidences occur a little too easy. I have little doubt Malorie was written with a movie sequel in mind, but It’s a horror novel at heart, and Malerman can still shock and scare.
I enjoyed my travels with Malorie. Bird Box will always be a favourite of mine and I never expected this to be as good, it isn’t, but it’s a damn fine read all the same. And so…
4/5 flocks of seagulls from the Grim Reader.
Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence.
There remains no explanation. No solution.
All Malorie can do is survive—and impart her fierce will to do so on her children. Don’t get lazy, she tells them. Don’t take off your blindfold. AND DON’T LOOK.
But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope.
Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.
Malorie has already lost so much: her sister, a house full of people who meant everything, and any chance at an ordinary life. But getting her life back means returning to a world full of unknowable horrors—and risking the lives of her children again.
Because the creatures are not the only thing Malorie fears: There are the people who claim to have caught and experimented on the creatures. Murmurings of monstrous inventions and dangerous new ideas. And rumors that the creatures themselves have changed into something even more frightening.
Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more.
The Grim Reader
The Grim Reader resides on the Gold Coast, Australia. A school teacher by day, a lover of dark fiction, heavy metal, Arsenal FC, bourbon and coffee at night.
The Grim Reader loves nothing more than reading and rocking.