Extra books 1: Bird Box and Inspection

I accidentally read more than one story for the “Book Written by Musician” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. In fact, I read three. Which is funny because I struggled to find one that was not ginormous and still interesting. I tried Wildwood, but it was huge and the audio did not suit me. Keith Richard’s book just scared me by the size and what I expected in the contents. (I love sex, rock-and-roll, and antics, but something said the tome might go very far into those subjects. No thanks.)
I joined a Horror Reading group at my local library because I knew the librarian running it loved the horror genre. I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was eleven years old and have not finished his works yet. I love a good scary book. (I like it better when there’s a love story buried in it.)
Anyway, our second book was Inspection by Josh Malerman. At our first meeting where we read We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix, the librarian and I discussed my reading blog and the trouble I had fulfilling categories. Since the first novel was about a metal band, I mentioned having a hard time with the “Musician Book.” He laughed at me.
“Our next book is by a musician, Inspection. You know, Josh Malerman, the guy who wrote Bird Box.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather because of course, I read Bird Box this year—after having seen the miniseries. And now we would read Inspection as well. I now had three books that fit the category. Sigh
And at this point in the year, I was so behind on the books I needed to finish. Story of my life.
Anyway here are Inspection and Bird Box.
Inspection was a young adult, post-apocalyptic experiment. Until you find out it’s not the future but the present day. The story tells of twenty-six, oops, now twenty-four boys living together in a school. The school is a tower in the woods. Each boy’s name is a letter of the alphabet. A-Z. Though A and Z are no longer with us. Note, the naming thing worked out well as the author used letters that were also names. The tale focused on Jay, Dee, Que, and Kay. Clever, huh?
Did I mention that there are no women anywhere in the tower? No girl students, nor women teachers, maids, nurses, or cooks. Not one chick. Because we find out later that the girls are in another tower being taught by the headmaster’s (D.A.D) wife (M.O.M). The two adults are running an experiment in rural Michigan. They want to know if being without the other sex will help the minds of the children be clearer and make them better thinkers.
As it’s a horror story, the experiment goes terribly wrong. I know I am super spoiling here, but there was so much to this book. But you have to look at it as an allegory. You have to suspend some belief to make the story work. But once you do, it’s great. Until it jumps the shark but that part I won’t spoil.
In suspending belief, no child is ever very sick or has special needs. They have a good supply of food and clothes. The ex-cons that make up the staff at both towers potty trained all fifty-two kids. Oh and not one of those fifty-two kids falls into the LGBTQ category. Also, none of the girls hit puberty before twelve. If you can put all that aside, the novel is amazing!
Our little group of four had a great discussion about many issues with the book. In the end, we focused on the major premise about the absence of one sex influencing the other. We concluded that yes, there is an influence and it can vary widely and wildly.
Bird Box hit Netflix last winter and everyone was talking about it. I finally saw it in March. (I have a TV addiction and cannot watch more than a little at a time. If I get started, I will binge a season overnight. Yes, I have a serious problem.) Anyway, the show was great. Scary and interesting. Sandra Bullock was fantastic. I loved that her character was so prickly and distant. And I grabbed the book to read.
The story differs some but the premise and ending are the same. I think the show emphasized the characters much more. But the book, since there were no pictures, gave that depth of horror of the unseen. The movie watcher always had something to look at on the screen. But the reader didn’t know what was coming on that river, or in the house, or anywhere.
I was torn between which I liked better. Both had great elements. But part of me is pulled to the show, with how the characters were formed, how they fought, loved, and lived in the horror.
Needless, I think the book was also amazing.
So a summary for this huge post: Inspection Five letters, Bird Box five blindfolds
Go read Josh Malerman. You won’t regret it.

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