Books Read in May + Review of BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman

Posted by on May 31, 2015 | 6 comments

Writing wise, May has been all about editing — revisiting an old project I started back in 2010, and re-planning a WIP I finished just last month. I’m pretty excited about both.

Reading wise, I read:

  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher — Unique and incredibly smart contemporary YA. Ketchup Clouds is written in the form of letters between the main character, Zoe, and a man on death row in Texas, who she writes to because she feels she shares a guilt similar to his. I was expecting something quite depressing, but the story is funny and poignant by turns, and so, so beautifully written. I had one niggle about the ending, otherwise this would be an all-time favourite book. Highly recommended.
  • The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna — Another unique and clever YA novel, this time sci-fi. The Lost Girl is about a girl called Eva, who was created as the double of a girl in India, so that Eva can take her original’s place if she ever dies (which, of course, she does). It’s a roller-coaster ride, exploring issues of identity and belonging.
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black — Old-school Holly Black, about two teenagers who get mixed up with the charismatic but dangerous local fae. I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did; out of all the Holly Black books I’ve read, it’s a favourite, second only to Doll Bones.
  • Running in Heels by Helen Bailey — Funny contemporary for the younger end of the YA spectrum. For such a light-hearted read, it does a great job exploring issues around bullying, particularly passive bullying (the main character doesn’t bully anyone herself, but she laughs along when her friends are being bitchy, and gets hit by the consequences later).
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — Adult thriller that seems to be everywhere at the moment. I guessed the killer before I was halfway through, and expected a few more twists than there were, but did like the multiple unreliable narrators.

And my favourite book of the month:

Bird BoxSomething 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?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.


Adult apocalyptic / post-apocalyptic horror. I read one rave review for it, and knew I wanted to read it. And I’m really glad I did, because I could not put Bird Box down.

Bird Box is told in two timeframes. We start in the present, watching Malorie holed up in a house where all the windows are covered and the carpets are stained with old blood. She’s about to embark on a journey with two small children, but leaving the house is dangerous: there’s something outside which the mere sight of drives people to violence and suicide. We don’t know what this ‘something’ is, and neither does Malorie — if she did know, she’d be dead. We just know that Malorie is one of only a few survivors, and society is no more.

The other time frame takes us back five years to when the problem first began. We watch pregnant Malorie as she first realises there’s danger, and as society rapidly breaks down. Malorie has to find other people and a way to survive, and wow, is it intense. There’s something incredibly compelling and terrifying about an enemy that can never be seen or understood. The tension of day-to-day survival is punctuated by bursts of violence and gory horror (which I coped with in the book, but might be too much for me in the film that’s rumoured to be in the works), and the way this time frame resolves… Seriously, Josh Malerman pulled out all stops. What an ending. I’m getting breathless all over again just thinking about it.

Bird Box is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and has left me with a craving for more clever psychological horror. Let me know if you have any recommendations.

What was the best book you read in May?


  1. I loved Ketchup Clouds too! But Bird Box sounds incredible!!!! I MUST go get myself a copy 🙂 x

    • It’s amazing, Ashleigh. Definitely recommended it if you’re in the mood for something clever and scary! x

  2. I loved The Girl on The Train and didnt guess until just before the end and i bought Ketchup Clouds last week so i’m pleased to see you thought so highly of it.
    There are some amazing YA novels around right now arent there.

    Gill x

  3. Thought i’d add that my fav book of May was Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun. Her writing is so good its almost undescribable, I havent been able to write a review yet. X

    • I’ve heard amazing things about I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN! Will definitely read it at some point. And KETCHUP CLOUDS is fantastic, you’re in for a treat, Gill.

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