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Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: The Day of the Triffids

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
The Day of the Triffids
by John Wyndham
Science Fiction
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.

Review:

Although this story took a little time to really get going, it was a very chilling tale.  It's an account of the aftermath of two disturbing events - that a majority of the world loses it's sight, and the mysterious Triffids are at large and preying on mankind.  And I want to talk about both events individually.

The story sets up some sort of explanation about what this blinding meteor shower could have been, but there is no conclusive answer.  But what is more important is how completely it changes mankind's superiority on Earth.  That aspect is well explored, and creates some very disturbing circumstances and raises many morality questions.  I have not thought of how utterly we are dependent on sight as a species to thrive.  I don't completely agree with the point made in the book that humanity's superiority is mostly due to sight (because obviously has to be our brains) but it is so essential to how we function and it's distressing to read how people deal with blindness in this book.

The origin of the Triffids is never explained, but then it seems that nobody knows where they came from.  It's funny though that just because of their novelty, they become very widespread and even grown in household gardens, despite the deadly stinger (which can be removed).  They are weirdly threatening, since they seem so passive, but as the story develops there is a stronger sense that they are smarter than anybody thought, and they are filled with purpose - or at least a drive.  The story is named after them, but so much of the drama that occurs in this book have the Triffids just in the background lurking.  It's so nervewracking!

As the story did kind of info dump the set up and the circumstances that led to this post-apocalyptic world, I felt it began slowly, but the human drama of survival, and the difficult decisions the main characters had to make, really made this a riveting story.  It's a very thoughtful science fiction read too, because there were more than a few relevant ideas and scenarios that were explored and those ideas felt important even to our modern times.  I will say though that the characters aren't as vivid in my imagination as the intensity of the plot, but I did feel very sympathetic to what the characters went through.   I was entirely engrossed by this unsettling book!

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