Along with most people I’ve seen on my bookstagram (@keepingupwithaskillings), I read the book after I watched Netflix’s adaptation last December (2018). Unfortunately though, finding this book was particularly difficult. Thriftbooks didn’t have it (click the link for a discount), Amazon was out-of-stock, and neither of the Barnes&Nobles near me had it. I was ultimately at a loss until it was stocked in any one of my usual bookstores. So, I waited. For a while. Bird Box wasn’t easy to get my hands on, and I believe it took almost a month for Amazon to finally stock it.
After I finally received my copy in January of 2019, I still didn’t read it. For some reason, after watching the film version first, I like to try and “forget” what happened in the movie. So, even after my thorough search of where to buy it, I still waited nearly six months to read it through, and I’m glad that I did.
When coming from the movie, the book has a lot of characteristics the movie didn’t – which is why I gave it five stars. For one, it’s a little more graphic (what books aren’t). A few of the chapters almost made me reach a tipping point and I had to actually pause before continuing. For another, the book was way more intense. If you’re like me and have an overactive imagination, then this book will 100% get to you. By practically placing you in the story, you get to see through Malorie’s perspective. You’re not just watching her, you’re reading from her point of view – which makes it a little more terrifying. Lastly, a few of the names are different, and a few of the characteristics are too. However, I’m willing to overlook those because the novel was significantly better than the film in my opinion.
Plot: Before the outbreak spreads all over the nation, in the beginning of the book, Malorie and her sister, Shannon spend most of their time in their apartment until Malorie finds out she’s pregnant. Eventually, after getting her pregnancy confirmed, Shannon starts to panic. Everyone is putting blankets up over their windows, their parents stopped calling, and the news was speculating over what exactly was going on. Were there actual creatures outside? How and why were they causing people to commit suicide? Unfortunately, it’s long until Shannon notices something outside and she also ends up a victim of “The Problem” ultimately leaving Malorie pregnant and alone. This is where the safe-house comes in.
After driving quite a distant primarily blindfolded and with keeping her eyes fixed forward, Malorie makes it to the safe-house where they “screen” her and take several precautions. When they realize that she isn’t affected by the creatures, they introduce themselves as Jules (and his dog, Victor), Felix, Tom, Don, Cheryl, and soon they’re joined by Olympia.
During the time Malorie stays with the group, Tom embarks on several expeditions in order to make their house more of a home where they can survive indefinitely. However, during one of his expeditions with Jules, a man named Gary knocks on their door, and although everyone is skeptical, they let him in anyway. Gary comes in with several stories of his brother Frank that kept notebooks explaining that the creatures didn’t mean to harm them, humanity was just weak-minded. He also states that apparently Frank left with his notebook one day and tore down the protective covering in their home. Needless to say, his stories only deepened Malorie’s suspicions and she eventually went through his things and found that Gary wasn’t who he said he was so she convinces the house to evict him.
Shortly after, her and Olympia end up giving birth in the attic of the house where all sorts of things go wrong. There’s a storm going on, everyone is screaming downstairs, and everyone ends up dead by the time she finally births her little boy. Despite everything though, shortly after she takes both hers and Olympias babies, the phone rings. A man named Rick answers and he offers her a place in his safe house that’s several miles away from her current living situation.
After four years of training the children to hear everything, Malorie finally embarks on the journey. She sets off in a rowboat that’s on the river and instructs the children throughout the whole trip. During the 48 hours it takes to try and reach safety, several things go wrong on the river, but that’s for you all to read for yourselves.
Book vs. Movie according to Insider.com: When comparing the book vs. the movie though, I found these traits on Insider.com – there may be spoilers ahead:
- The novel is set in Detroit, while the movie is set in California.
- The books timeline is way more spread out. It focuses more of the development of the outbreak, while the movie focuses more on what happens afterwards.
- In the movie, Malorie’s sister dies by stepping in front of a bus. In the book, she dies by suicide in the bathroom.
- Douglas doesn’t exist in the book.
- The names in the book that stay in the safe-house: Don, Jules, Olympia, Tom, Felix, and Cheryl vs. the names in the movie: Greg, Tom, Douglas, Cheryl, Lucy, Olympia, Felix, and Charlie. Even her sisters’ name is different: Shannon (book), Jessica (movie).
- Tom isn’t as significant in the book, in the movie, Tom stays with Malorie and the kids for five years. In the book, he doesn’t.
- In the book, Malorie focuses on training her kids before heading to Rick. In the movie, Malorie and Tom don’t really have the intention to travel towards Rick until Tom dies.
- In the book, the birds are used as an alarm system for the safe-house until they go crazy at some point along the river. In the movie, they’re used in the same way, but they’re found in a different location and live throughout the whole movie.
- The books’ ending was way darker than the movie. They make it to the sanctuary, but people intentionally blinded themselves to stay safe. In the movie, the director wanted a more positive route, so they made the ending appear more hopeful for Malorie and the children.