Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird BoxBird Box by Josh Malerman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finally watched the movie the other night. It being 2019, a random non-prime year, I’m trying to be less of a curmudgeon (not a resolution, but it does takes resolve…) so I’ll just say…I watched the movie. Given some of the logical inconsistencies within the oh-so-required suspension-of-thought (when I did observe something out loud, my wife asked, “Can’t you just be in the moment?” We’ve been married almost 33 years. She knows I can’t – brain sees problems, brain asks questions. The task is to only ask them internally.) I wondered the adaptation failed or the source matter did. So I read the book.

Problems first: I am not a fan of present tense writing. oddly, Malerman used that style for both his “current” segments and flashbacks, where I would expect perhaps…past tense?This is probably the most absurd premise ever conceived. This might be forgivable, but if there are some people not affected in the way of all but a millionth of a percent (speculation on my part) of all people, how is it that there aren’t some not affected at all, instead of being affected in a logically inconsistent way? That might be forgiveable because maybe the incredibly small sample set (of characters) never come across any who are immune.

As for positives: It’s a quick read. And it’s really simple. Really simple. Flat, undeveloped characters. Alternating (for the most part) time slices. Small slices – non-linearity serves it well. Because it is simple, other than that premise, there is no thinking necessary. Now, it is engaging. Maybe that simplicity…

Malerman leaves a lot unanswered – why the names of the children (unlike the movie, there is only one reference in the book to indicate the lead character’s reason), the creatures…how an entire world can be infested in an incongruously short period of time, and the mechanism of the Effect…the absurdity is something that cannot be ignored by any reader with reasoning ability.

I find it amusing that this is classified as “horror” – how it won awards is baffling. If Malerman had spent time developing the feeling, it might, but as it reads, it fits the “Odd” category and not “Horror”. And I don’t think it is me (I’ve not been frightened from a fiction book since I was eight and read a collection of ghost stories) – it really falls short. So, the source matter is the …source…of the problem, but the adaptation at least improved it. One of those statistical anomalies of a movie being better than a book.

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