Book Review: MALORIE by Josh Malerman

A few years ago while browsing the “Staff Recommendations” section at my local bookstore, one of the employees approached me and asked about my interests. When I mentioned I loved to be scared, he asked, “Have you read Bird Box?” I was sold after a quick synopsis and mention of Josh Malerman being from Michigan. Looking back, I’m so grateful for that encounter, as it led to a new favorite author and many more fantastic reads.

Why am I starting this review by telling you about Bird Box first? For a couple of reasons:

  1. I discovered “Bookstagram” around the time that I read the book. At that point, I’d yet to write a book review, and I don’t think I ever went back to write one for that novel. So, I’m giving it some extra love here and now.
  2. Without Bird Box, it’s likely we wouldn’t have Malorie. Now that I’ve read both, I can’t imagine one book existing without the other.

Bird Box was unlike any horror novel I’d read at the time. I devoured it, and loved every minute. Everything that makes it a great novel is also present within the pages of this sequel. In both of these novels, Malerman provides the perfect combination—colorful characters, tension that snowballs, and settings that come to life. I’ve come to expect nothing less from this author. Each story that he writes shares these features while also being insanely creative and original. Here’s where I begin to tell you just how Malorie fits the Malerman mold and stands out as one of my favorites…

Let’s start with the characters, as that’s what will make or break a story for me. Malorie provides us with a closer connection to the woman herself, as well as her two children. We jump ahead in time and have a chance to further explore the minds of Malorie, Tom, and Olympia along their journey. I enjoyed the opportunity to observe these characters twelve years after the events in Bird Box. It added a completely new element to the continuation of this saga, considering that Tom and Olympia are now teenagers. This novel continues their story of survival, but now there’s a coming-of-age aspect that works so well. It was exciting to watch the two kids become more independent and also to see how Malorie changes over time. There’s a somewhat smaller cast of characters in this one, and it works so well.

Being from Michigan, the setting in this story has always held strong importance to me and I’ve probably raved about it one too many times. I can’t help it. Reading about places that I love and have been to makes the story a bit more near and dear to my heart. Imagine my delight when I realized that some of the events in Malorie take place right next door to where I live. I’ll stop raving about that, and tell you that while it adds something special for me, I’d love this story no matter where it was set. The descriptions of place in this story are excellent; the settings come to life, and you feel like you’re there throughout the entire experience.

I mentioned tension earlier, and this story has a ton of it. It starts off in the midst of some action, and then the reader is given a slight reprieve to catch their breath before the tension and dread begin to build again. The pacing is spot-on and it all builds to a wonderful ending.

I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible, so I think I should leave the rest to the readers’ imagination and allow others to discover the amazing aspects of this story on their own. I have a few final thoughts and experiences from this read that I’d like to add before I go:

  • Bird Box still stands on its own without a sequel, but Malorie takes this experience to another level, continuing the journey and bringing forth that additional closure that many of us wanted at the end of the first story.
  • After only a few pages into this book, I wanted to be blindfolded to the rest of my life so that I could feast my eyeballs on nothing but Malerman’s words. I only put this book down when I was forced to sleep and go to work.
  • Malerman is a master of words and a creative genius. There were some really beautiful lines in this story—some figurative language that had me re-reading, but also descriptive language here and there which made me pause. I was moved to tears several times while reading this book, and it wasn’t always when you’d expect.
  • The inclusion of little nuggets from the characters’ experience in Bird Box (and from Malorie’s old life prior to the events) add another element to this novel, making it even more special.

I can’t say enough good things about this one. I had high expectations, and it truly lived up to every one of them. Malermaniacs are going to fall in love with this book, and I hope it prompts new readers to grab a copy of Bird Box and begin their journey to the satisfying conclusion that is Malorie.

 

5/5 Stars

Publisher: Del Rey

Release Date: July 21, 2020

Thank you to the publisher and author for providing an advance copy of this novel for review consideration.

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