Overview (No Spoilers):
I typically enjoy scary or suspenseful movies despite key scenes making the impulse to pace about or hide behind my hands overwhelming. Honestly, upon some reflection, maybe I don’t really like those kinds of movies, but it’s the triggering of emotions that are not experienced on a routine basis that is appealing. Regardless, very few books have prompted that same response, with the titles that come to mind mainly being authored by Stephen King. Bird Box (the book and movie) caused me to have some anxiety, but nothing on the level that Malorie induced. Apparently, the addition of teenage angst and recklessness, along with the already established mystery of the creatures served to heighten dangerous situations with my emotions responding proportionally. Needless to say, I physically jumped quite a few times while listening to Malerman’s sequel.
As a Michigander, I positively loved the references to East Lansing, Saugatuck, Indian River, Mackinaw, and St. Ignace. Due to Michigan being the chosen setting it was no surprise to find out Malerman still lives in Ferndale, where several of my friends also happen to call home. The drive north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is one that I’ve experienced several times and am very familiar with the Indian River exit, which at that stage of the road trip I’m usually desperate to go to the bathroom. I’ve also been to East Lansing’s train station, which is right across the street from my favorite yoga studio, many times to catch a train to Chicago. Having these locations be such focal points for the story added an extra connection and depth to Malorie as I could visualize not only where the characters were at in the Mitten, but also how far they were from their goals.
Despite keeping the reader on the edge of their seats throughout much of Malorie, Malerman manages to amp the suspense exponentially in the final few chapters. As a result of this palpable tension, when the ending did arrive, the reader is left processing the now relative calm.
In this post apocalyptic world, there seemed to be one to many far fetched coincidences that conveniently converged in just the right way that kept the ending from ringing in sync with the rest of the novel. With running the risk of being contradictory, I enjoyed how all of the loose ends were resolved, however much the stars had to align to bring about this final sequence of events.
Fast-paced, I devoured this read in just over a day. Malorie is easily one of the best sequels I’ve recently picked up, and I’m not just saying that due to my Michigan bias. Overall, Malerman delivers a roller coaster of emotions and dread in Malorie that left me jumping at every random noise despite listening to the audiobook in broad daylight. As a fantastic followup to Bird Box, I can’t wait to see if Malorie will also be brought to life as a movie.
Additional Insight (SpoilersAbound):
- How did the monster get in the School of the Blind? Did Gary let it in? How did he know where Malorie moved after the School of the Blind? Why did he wait 16 years to make a move on her?
- Did Gary have something to do with the Census man? Also, did the Census man keep multiple copies of his work? He obviously wouldn’t have left Malorie with all of his work, however it would have taken so much work to copy everything over and over again.
- Apparently Tom didn’t look through the crack of the train window with Gary. How did Gary handle this rejection?
- Did Malorie ever let Dean know she and her family were ok? What did he end up thinking of her disappearance?
- What happened to Nathan after the train jump? Were they going to leave Malorie in the pit to die?
- How did Malorie or her children survive Michigan’s brutal winters? Did they go chop wood blindfolded? They lived in camp cabins, which I can’t imagine would be the most insulated.
- At the end of the book Malorie and her Dad discuss moving back north to the UP. How would they manage the winters? Likely better now that they could see outside but it would be so very cold during the winter.
- Now that people can see the creatures can they be hunted?
- Why did the creatures surround the barn that Malorie, Tom, and Olympia were in? What would have happened if they had stayed?
- I loved the twist that Olympia was immune. What would have happened if she had told Malorie sooner?
- I liked that Malorie found her Dad, however I found it unsettling that Indian River will be memorialized now as the place that found the way to see again despite their terrible tactics.