Bird Box

Ecco: HarperCollins. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780062259653. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062259677. HORROR
There is something out there. Something that drives people insane from simply seeing it. In their postapocalyptic world where looking outside is potentially deadly, Malorie and her two children live in perpetual darkness with blacked-out windows, blindfolding themselves when they venture outside. But Malorie can survive on her own for only so long. Hoping to find a safer place to live, she takes her children on a 20-mile trip down the river that runs behind their house. Blindfolded and alert to every sound, they set out on a journey that will require Malorie to use everything that she has to get her children to safety. Because something is following them, something that wants them to take off their blindfolds.
VERDICT A good horror story lets the tension build slowly, eventually ending in a nail-biting crisis that is finally resolved by the novel's last page. Debut author Malerman, however, takes the pressure level from zero to 100 on page one and attempts to keep it there for the entire book. That extreme suspense becomes tedious after about 50 pages, and yet there are another 200-plus pages that the reader must get through. Malerman does attempt to add dimension to his protoganist by interspersing her backstory into the main plotline, but that addition only serves to make the peripheral characters more interesting than Malorie. With an anticlimactic ending, there is little reward here for the faithful reader who perseveres to the end.
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