I'm a huge fan of Hugh Howey's Wool series, so when I saw that he had written a glowing endorsement for Bird Box, I was intrigued. Howey's blurb calls Josh Malerman's debut supernatural/psychological horror novel a book "to be read in a single sitting", a sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with now that I’ve had a chance to read it myself.
Bird Box is most enjoyable when read with as few interruptions as possible. Each time I was forced to put the book down, I found myself worrying about the fates of various characters, many of whom - thanks to two alternating timelines - we know are most likely dead by the time the we are introduced to Mallory and the children.
Malerman’s premise is simple, but clever, and unlike anything I’ve encountered before (although comparisons to M. Night Shyamalan’s movie The Village came to mind while I was reading). The idea of being tormented by creatures that may or may not be figments of our imaginations plays to humanity’s primitive fear of the dark, reminding us that sometimes it’s the things we can’t see that are the most frightening.
What makes the book work is the constant fear that at any moment, someone might slip up and do something we all take for granted: LOOK. It will have you thinking about how much we rely on sight – in the world Malerman describes, something as mundane as a walk around the block becomes a harrowing journey from which we may never find our way home.
Bird Box is one of the best psychological horror novels I’ve read in recent years. It’s definitely one of the most fun. Malerman effectively builds the suspense over the course of the book's 250 pages - a perfect length for a story of this type as there in no filler -, culminating in a nail-biting climax that kept me awake until the early hours of the morning.
I highly recommend it for anyone who likes being thoroughly creeped out.
Dreams of Gods and Monsters
By Laini Taylor
I was very excited to receive a copy of ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’ from NetGalley, thanks to Hachette Australia. Like many of you, I’ve been waiting to find out whether or not Karou/Madrigal and Akiva would get their happy ending since ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ came out back in 2012.
I’m pleased to say that ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’ contains everything fans have come to love about these books, with plenty of action, romance, and Taylor’s patented sense of humour.
I was very impressed at how well she managed to juggle multiple character and relationship arcs, giving everyone in the main cast at least one stand out moment. This book has more of an ensemble feel than the others, with at least a dozen viewpoint characters (some old and some new). While some readers might worry that it takes the focus away from Karou and Akiva, I really enjoyed getting to know supporting characters like Zuzanna, Mik, Liraz, and Ziri a little better. Since finishing ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’, I can now say that the seemingly one note warrior, Liraz, is one of my favourite characters in this universe. I might even go so far as to say that while reading this book she became my favourite.
I hate the idea of assigning ratings to books because reading is so subjective. I wanted to give this one five stars simply because I adore this series and Laini Taylor’s writing, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I felt that the addition of a second major conflict (involving the Stelians and something called ‘the Cataclysm’), convoluted the main plot somewhat, creating a Deux Ex Machina that to me didn’t feel completely earned. I would have liked to see Taylor save it for a fourth volume – or even another novella – where she could have developed it in more detail. I do, however, appreciate that since this was always intended to be the final book in the series, she wanted to tie up any remaining loose ends – including Razgut’s origin and questions about Akiva’s maternal bloodline –, which is why giving it four stars feels kind of harsh. I would have given it four-and-a-half if that were possible, because while it was by no means perfect, it was still an extremely satisfying conclusion to what has been an amazing journey.
Thank you, Laini Taylor, for writing such a wonderful series, and for being kind enough to let us read it.
By Sarah Lotz
Ever since I read about Sarah Lotz’s The Three on publishersweekly.com, I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for the ARCs to be released. When I finally managed to get my hands on one, I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. I will admit that I was expecting a more traditional novel – something along the lines of good old-fashioned third person limited – , so the mockumentary/ expose style of the book caught me by surprise. However, I decided to forge ahead with it anyway, and within a few chapters I was well and truly hooked. From then until I reached the final page I could only tear myself away from it long enough to sleep and go to work.
Don’t let the spooky cover art fool you – The Three is more than a run-of-the-mill supernatural mystery or sci fi thriller. It’s a complex and fascinating exploration of the dangers of twenty-first century sensationalist media culture, including its potential to ignite and exacerbate global hysteria.
In The Three, Lotz raises the question: how do we make sense of something that doesn’t make sense? Who do we look to for answers when faced with the unexplainable? The church? The government? The so called “conspiracy nuts” previously dismissed by society? And to what ends?
As with real life situations, everyone in the book seems to have their own theories regarding the enigmatic Black Thursday plane crashes – in many cases carefully manipulated in service of a cynical personal agenda. Which as it turns out, is what makes Lotz’s unconventional journalistic approach perfect for the story she’s telling, as we witness the tragic, and at times, horrifying, chain of events that unfold across the four continents involved in the initial disasters.
Whether you love it like I did, or hate it as I’m sure some readers will (Remember how divisive Lost was? Or how passionately some moviegoers disliked Inception?), The Three is the kind of mind-bending book that will stay with you for a long time. When you reach the end, you’ll most likely find yourself wanting to debate it with family or friends or anyone else you can talk into reading it. It’s sure to be a popular choice for book clubs this year.