Let's talk about sequels, shall we? In the movie world, sequels are rarely better than the original. With the exception of Sister Act 2 and Ghostbusters II, maybe, I can't think of another off the top of my head.
And while writing your sophomore novel might be traditionally more difficult, the same cannot be said when it comes to reading experience. Several sequels are as good or better than their predecessors (I'm looking at you Drawing of the Three).
Malorie, in my humble opinion, is better than Bird Box.
Maybe it's the premise: Upon learning her parents might still be alive, Malorie and her teenage children risk their lives, leave their tentative safety, in hopes of reunion. Maybe it's the nuanced character arcs. Indeed, ten years after the creatures arrive, we see the fallout and the recovery. Malorie essentially suffers from PTSD from her time in the house, and while her children understand the dangers, they don't relate in the same way, thinking she's overprotective or hovering. Expanding the narration beyond the unknown of the creatures really opened up this world, and I couldn't get enough of Olympia, Tom, Malorie, and the crew of characters they meet on their journey. Some new favorites emerge, and there are plenty of surprises along the way--especially considering that in the time that's passed since the end of Bird Box, not much is actually known about the creatures.
What I love about Malerman's writing is his two-fold: his story-telling prowess and his literary merit. Malerman tells an excellent story, with on-point pacing, authentic characters, and conflict so real I'd be surprised if you weren't stuffing this in the freezer. So many genre pieces are dismissed as sensational or lacking substance. Malerman proves that the horror genre is not only rife with talent, but worth. His exploration of grief and tragedy, love and loss, the unknown and humanity--all of these overarching themes with a backdrop of monsters that would be right at home among the literary giants.
At its heart, Malorie is a story of a mother and her love, how they are both separate and intertwined identities. How monsters are real and they aren't always the creatures we can't see. How despite it all, there's still good in the world.
Malorie is a must-read in every sense of the word, and I look forward to more Malerman tales in the future.