Today I’m starting the week off with a review of my most recent read: MALORIE by Josh Malerman. This is the sequel to BIRD BOX, which was turned into a Netflix film in December 2018. I loved BIRD BOX, both the film and the book, so I had very high expectations for MALORIE. I finished the first book in about 14 hours—starting it on a Saturday afternoon after work and finishing it on Sunday morning before going into my second job—and I was fully prepared to have the same experience with MALORIE.
Unfortunately, the sequel did not quite live up to my expectations.
Now, don’t get me wrong—this was a great book. I enjoyed the way the POV shifted sporadically between chapters. I loved Olympia, and her big reveal at the end of the book. In fact, I really enjoyed the second half of this book, from The Blind Train to the end. But the first hundred pages or so were lackluster.
Twelve years have passed since the events of BIRD BOX took place. Malorie and her children, Tom and Olympia—formerly known as Boy and Girl—have been forced out of the Jane Tucker School for the Blind after a creature infiltrated the building and drove its tenants mad. The trio have spent the past ten years at Camp Yadin, an abandoned boy scout camp stocked to the brim with canned goods and supplies. But when a strange man arrives one day, claiming to be from the census, the family is sent on a quest to find the one thing Malorie never dreamed she’d see again—her parents.
The quest itself is exciting and action-packed, but leading up to it was slow. Malorie, paranoid and traumatized by the events of BIRD BOX, keeps a tight hold on her children, to the point of borderline abuse. She’s afraid of everything, and everyone, and refuses to progress past the blindfold she lives her life by. Her children—Tom, specifically—don’t agree with her methods. Tom was my biggest issue with the first half of this book, honestly. I suppose he’s written fairly realistically, but he spends more time whining about how safe Malorie always is, about how she never lets him experiment with new ways to view and fight the creatures, whining about—well, literally everything. He thinks he’s much older and wiser than he really is, and although that’s not so far off for many 16-year-olds, it was grating to read. His chapters were by far my least favorite.
I was also disappointed by the overall feel of the book. BIRD BOX was frightening in a way that kept me on the edge of my seat from page one to the end. MALORIE didn’t have that same level of suspense, of creepiness. It definitely still had its moments, but it wasn’t nearly as strong or consistent and BIRD BOX was.
Overall, I did enjoy the book. I would love to see it get adapted as a film just as BIRD BOX was. It just didn’t live up to the very high expectations I set for it upon learning about it. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.