Monday, 13 September 2010

The Chrysalids

Author: John Wyndham
Publisher: Penguin Decades
RRP: £8.99

  David has a special talent.  It's a secret and, as far as he's aware only he and seven others can do it.  If the community were to find out, he would be outlawed...or worse.  David (the narrator of the story) lives on a farm owned by his God-fearing parents in a post-nuclear age where any abnormalities are not tolerated.  He discovers his ability to communicate telepathically using 'thought-shapes' and is terrified of his father and the community finding out.  When they do, he has no choice but to flee with others with the same ability into the fringes where he receives some unexpected information.

  The book feels contemporary in the way it is written, however the subject matter is very much of the era.  Written in the 1950s fears of nuclear attack were rife and this book excellently explores some of the consequences of such action and its impact on humanity.  Although the 'normal' people within the book believe they are doing God's work chasing down deviations, however little is known of the true image of the 'Old People' (people in existence before the nuclear attack).  This results in monstrous actions and atrocities in the way they carry out their beliefs to an extent which makes them far worse than the deviations they seek to destroy. 

  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the narrative was fantastically gripping and the way the action gradually rolled out kept me wanting more.  I did feel that at some points the action moved a little too fast and I wanted more information and detail about events such as the battle between the spider man and David's father.  I think this could have been a pinnacle moment in the story but instead it was washed over.  This could be seen as a backhanded compliment, because had I not been as gripped, I probably wouldn't be bothered about getting more from the book.  Although the character of David was developed fully I did feel that some of the other characters didn't feel too real to me.  This is disappointing particularly within the book David explains how they way they use thought-shapes enables them to know and understand more about each other, this wasn't maximised.  This was a great book, exciting and easy to read with such a fascinating storyline, definitely one to add to your to-read list.

Rating: 8/10