Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham

Rating: 4/5
272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: Borrowed from family

Description: Tired of watching humanity struggle for survival against hordes of vampires or zombies? How about predatory plants for a change?

After a strange event leaves most of the world's population blind. Humanity's struggle to survive is complicated by the Triffids, a species of mobile carnivorous plants.

Review: While this book does feel somewhat dated, overall its very well done. The author seems to have put a lot of thought into people's immediate reactions, struggles, and solutions beyond just the struggle to survive against the triffids. In fact, the triffids only play a minor role until the later parts of the book, which I think was a wise decision. We get enough of them early on to understand them as a threat, but the true extent isn't immediately revealed.

I do question some of what the author posits as the immediate aftermath of the population going blind. I don't remember any characters thinking that the blindness might be temporary. Everyone seemed to somehow know this condition was permanent as soon as they realized they were blind. Which leads me to the reaction I had a problem with, suicide.

I'm not saying that suddenly finding yourself, and those around you, blind might not be the thing that would push some people over the edge and that some people would reach that point sooner than others. However, either the protagonist had the damnedest luck running into people who were apparently already suicidal, or the author truly believed this would be the logical first reaction of a large enough portion of the population, that the main character running into, or hearing about, four of these people, in a large city, in the first twenty-four hours, wouldn't strain the reader's suspension of disbelief.

My other problem with the book was a couple of instances where the author had the main character make tough decisions about what to do, but then completely negated them by having events occur that made these decisions instantly irrelevant. While the intervening events didn't exactly come out of nowhere, and there turned out to be some degree of payoff from both of them, it was still a bit frustrating to me as a reader.

If you're looking for a, reasonably, well thought out post-apocalyptic story and are willing to overlook some rather dated attitudes and science, this book would be a good choice.

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