Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Chrysalids

Title: The Chrysalids

Author: John Wyndham

Number of pages: 208

Started: 16 June 2008

Finished: 18 June 2008

Opening words:

When I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city - which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was. But this city, clustered on the curve of a big blue bay, would come into my mind. I could see the streets, and the buildings that lined them, the waterfront, even boats in the harbour; yet, waking, I had never seen the sea, or a boat. ...
And the buildings were quite unlike any I knew. The traffic in the streets was strange, carts running with no horses to pull them; and sometimes there were things in the sky, shiny fish-shaped things that certainly were not birds.

Most often I would see this wonderful place by daylight, but occasionally it was by night when the lights lay like strings of glow-worms along the shore, and a few of them seemed to be sparks drifting on the water, or in the air.

It was a beautiful, fascinating place, and once, when I was still young enough to know no better, I asked my eldest sister, Mary, where this lovely city could be.

She shook her head, and told me that there was no such place - not now. But, perhaps, she suggested, I could somehow be dreaming about times long ago. Dreams were funny things, and there was no accounting for them; so it might be that what I was seeing was a bit of the world as it had been once upon a time - the wonderful world that the Old People had lived in; as it had been before God sent Tribulation.

Plot summary:

In the community of Waknut it is believed mutants are the products of the Devil and must be stamped out. When David befriends a girl with a slight abnormality, he begins to understand the nature of fear and oppression. When he develops his own deviation, he must learn to conceal his secret.

Synopsis taken from Amazon.

What I thought:

Another enjoyable John Wyndham book, and I thought probably my next favourite to The Day of the Triffids. Another tale of the world gone wrong and how people cope and evolve. This book had an interesting theme of people surviving the Tribulation and them then trying to eradicate everything and everyone they believed not to fit the norm – but it raised questions of how do we even know what the norm is and can you ever truly stop things from evolving anyway.

This book did actually make me wonder what drove Wyndham to write all these books about being an outsider and dealing with the extremes of life. I didn’t find an answer to that but he certainly seems to have found a theme that he questions from different angles throughout his books. Another good read.

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