Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The basics

Title: Bird Box


Series: Bird Box #1

- Bird Box (2014)
- Malorie (2020)

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Goodreads Summary:

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children's trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Read a full summary of Bird Box by Josh Malerman below. If you can’t remember what happened in Bird Box and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in Bird Box?

  • River: Malorie has to get her two children to the river. There’s no time like the present. She gets them there without a hitch and they start paddling downstream.
  • 4 Years Earlier: Malorie is living with her sister, Shannon, in Michigan. Theere are reports of a few people going mad on the news, but Malorie’s biggest issue is that she’s pregnant.
  • Soon there are more and more cases. Malorie and Shannon have to shut themselves inside and the government recommends boarding or covering up windows.
  • One day, Shannon sees something outside and kills herself. Malorie heads to Riverbridge and is taken in by a group of housemates.
  • River: A man on a motorised boat tells the family to take off their blindfolds and he slowly goes mad.
  • Tom tells Malorie about the owner of the house, George, who watched a recording and then killed himself. Apparently even seeing the creatures on a screen gets to people.
  • Felix is getting water from the well when he hears something inside it, plus some wet feet on the grass. He runs back to the house and Tom tests the well water. It seems to be safe.
  • A pregnant woman called Olympia arrives at the house.
  • River: Wolves try to attack them but they get away. Malorie is injured.
  • Tom plans to leave the house to look for dogs to use as alert dogs and guides. The house votes on whether this is a good idea or not. He heads out with Jules.
  • Victor, the dog, starts barking which freaks everyone out.
  • Tom is gone for 24 hours. Everyone starts arguing, particularly Don.
  • River: Malorie recalls Don telling her to blind her unborn child. She considered it when the babies were born but she couldn’t do it.
  • Tom and Jules return with two huskies and some birds.
  • We follow Tom as he starts his search. While he’s in his neighbour’s house he finds a dead child. They find two dogs and the birds and return to the house.
  • River: Malorie starts to struggle to row. The boy helps her. She makes sure the children eat. Malorie passes out from her wound.
  • Someone knocks on the door. It’s a man called Gary. Don doesn’t trust him. Gary says he had to leave his previous place because his housemates became violent.
  • Malorie is the tie breaker when the housemates vote to let Gary in. She suggests he might need help. This might be a mistake.
  • Gary starts telling stories about his ex-housemates. He says one called Frank pulled the curtains down and unlocked the doors and then left.
  • River: Malorie wakes up. The children are still rowing.
  • Cheryl goes out to feed the birds and she hears something. The birds don’t want to eat and they sound the alarm. Something touches her shoulder.
  • Malorie becomes suspicious of Gary and his briefcase.
  • Tom and Jules plan to go out on a supply run. The housemates argue but Malorie calms them down.
  • River: Malorie goes over the plan the man told her again. When she reaches the split, she is to take the second channel. She’ll need to look for it.
  • River: Malorie recalls how she had to drive to get supplies. She painted the windows of the car and drove blind at 5mph. She reached a bar and found alcohol. Victor starts whining. He finds a cellar door, and then he sees something. Malorie has to leave him.
  • Malorie finds Gary’s notebook and realises he’s the one who killed his housemates. He did it to prove there was no threat. She freaks out, especially because Tom has now gone on the supply run. She starts to tell Gary her thoughts when Tom returns with a phone book.
  • River: Someone is following them. Malorie asks the boy to listen out.
  • Malorie tells everyone about the notebook. The housemates question why Gary has Frank’s notebook. Most turn on him. Don doesn’t want to force Gary out as he’s gotten attached, but the others don’t trust him.
  • River: Malorie wonders if Gary is following her. She asks the boy questions about who is following them. They seem to be walking.
  • Don now rarely leaves the cellar. Victor barks at the cellar door.
  • Malorie goes into labour.
  • River: The birds start squawking and killing one another. Blood rains down on the boat.
  • Malorie and Olympia are both in labour now. They’re taken up to the attic. There’s a commotion downstairs, and it sounds as though someone has opened the doors and windows. Gary comes up to the attic and reveals that he never really left. He wants to show the housemates that the creatures aren’t a real threat.
  • Malorie assumes the housemates are killing each other downstairs. Olympia sees something at the door to the attic and starts to lose her mind. Malorie covers the eyes of both babies, saving them. Olympia jumps from the attic window. Gary tries to get Malorie to open her eyes, but she won’t. She feels a creature near her but it leaves. Blind and carrying two babies, she heads downstairs. She’s unaware of the bodies. The phone rings, and it’s a guy called Rick, who tells her to take the river and she’ll find his sanctuary.
  • River: Malorie feels a creature nearby. It leaves, and she opens her eyes to find the correct channel. She takes the second one, and reaches the place Rick was talking about. It used to be a home for blind people. Rick and some of the others blinded themselves after a security breach, but now they’re doing quite well and it looks like Malorie and the kids will be safe.
  • Except there’s a sequel, so maybe not.

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