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Book Review: Malorie by Josh Malerman (4/5)

8 Aug

I made no secret of my love for Bird Box. Malerman is local to the Detroit area and I found a virtual event last year to hear him speak about his books and discovered that he was publishing a sequel, Malorie. I was pumped! I’ve made good progress in ebooks lately so I was excited to pick this one up and surprised myself with how fast I sped through it.


Cover image via Amazon

Malorie (Bird Box #2) by Josh Malerman

Other books by Malerman reviewed on this blog:

Bird Box (and Book Club Reflection and Movie Review)
A House at the Bottom of a Lake

Summary from Amazon:

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. Murmerings 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.

It was so hard not to picture Sandra Bullock when reading this. She was an amazing Malorie in the movie. I felt like this story was very consistent with the first book. It takes place only a short time after the first book ends and pushes the characters into another tense situation. The world they were in was so dangerous that it was hard to think there was a happy ending to the first book. The characters had hope, but it was so fragile. I liked where this one went. I thought it was a realistic way for the world to develop. The division between those who were surviving, thriving, and rebelling was stark and felt real to me.

Reading this one as a mother, I can see why Malorie is as nervous and conservative as she is. The people who we see portrayed as rebels don’t have children from what we know. The burden of keeping another person alive has crushed Malorie into being a different person than she was before the Creatures showed up. She’s lost her identity because she can’t relax and get it back. Her survival mode instincts are strong.

I grew to love Olympia. She’s torn between her deep love for her mother and her connection with her brother. One wants to hold close and the other push away. The revelations about her at the end were heartbreaking and made her my favorite character. I was able to think back through the story and trace times that I could have figured out her secrets, but they were artfully subtle and made for a great reveal.

I related to Malorie’s protective nature over her kids. I would do anything for my Baby and I know who I’ve been since they were born is different than the person I was before. Having a Baby during COVID is different than Malorie’s situation, but I was able to draw some parallels in the precautions I had to take and my distrust of strangers who might inadvertently harm my baby. Mama Bear instincts are strong.


Josh Malerman Image via Nelson Literary Agency

The train was an amazing part of the story. The details of how it got going were really fun and knowing Michigan geography as well as I do, I could picture it so easily. I loved the visual and the appeal of a blind train. It was so original and so fun to read.

Some spoilers here about my least favorite part so skip to the next paragraph to avoid those. I thought the ending was a bit too clean. Tom’s invention working right away and Malorie’s father being in Indian River seemed to clean up the story a little too fast. I felt it would be more realistic if the glasses didn’t work for everyone or they left and were able to find her father further on the rail line.

Parent-child relationships are complicated at best. In the world Malorie lives in, they’re insane. She’s had to sacrifice so much of herself to keep Tom and Olympia alive that she doesn’t recognize herself anymore. Tom is so resentful of how protective Malorie is that he doesn’t recognize the safety she provides. Now that I have a kiddo, I can see how they’ve changed me and how I’m not the version of myself I was when I got pregnant. I can also see their little personality flourishing and how, even now, they don’t want me being around and helping or keeping them safe when they want to explore and learn. And we don’t have creatures to worry about.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think Malerman was smart to revisit Malorie. It might seem like a cash grab, I know. I did listen to a talk he gave during the lockdown where he said he wrote this book because he couldn’t get Malorie out of his head and wanted to tell more of her story. Bird Box ended with a happier state than it began, but it was still not a goods state of the world. This book wrapped that up better, even if I did have some issues with it as stated above. I think he’d be hard pressed for a third book, but this second was a nice way of ending things.

An enjoyable read that I sped through. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the ‘Future’ time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.When Are You Reading? 2022 Progress

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Malorie: A Review of the Bird Box Sequel | The Kate at Night