Friday, 5 August 2011

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

If you're not a fan of dystopian fiction look away now!

The Chrysalids takes place in the post-apocalyptic town of Labrador, Canada. Labrador is a small isolated community living in a world that has been devastated by some kind of catastrophic event (I'm assuming a nuclear holocaust of some kind) Since all modern technology was destroyed in the “event” the community have been set back a few hundred years or so and live in a fairly primitive manner.

The people have a fear of anything born with an abnormality no matter how minor. Whole fields are burnt if any crops are found growing wrong, animals are swiftly slaughtered and humans are banished to 'the fridges', an inhospitable place where it is unlikely anyone will survive. Added to the plot mix are the communities fundamental Christian beliefs, these are extreme God fearing folk indeed as the Bible happens to be the only book to have survived the event. The story centres around a young man called David who finds that he himself is a deviant along with several other people in the village when he begin to develop telepathic powers.......

The above synopsis has similar plot lines of so so many other post-apocalyptic books. Constantly while reading The Chrysalis I was reminded of other books, films and TV shows that had very similar plot elements that I lost count of them all. The Chrysalids was first published in 1955 and it is not difficult to see how much of an influence this novel has had. You may feel that its not worth reading because it has been done so many times since but The Chrysalis is still a great dystopian novel of its type.

This was a very easy read which moved quickly and yet which also threw up some interesting questions. The storyline was a very good one which has not aged at all, in fact I was surprised at how modern the book seemed. If you like your dystopian fiction then even if you took out the influence this book has had out of the equation, it is still a very fine read. Recommended

Posted by Jess
The US title for this book is Re-Birth


  1. I've had this on my virtual to-real shelf for several months now. I love dystopian fiction and this one sounds like a classic.

  2. I agree with you about this book. It has held up very well since 1955. It may even be better than the author's more famous work Day of the Tryffids.

    Not at all sure how to spell Tryffids.

  3. I haven't heard of this, but I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, so it is going on the ever-expanding wishlist. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  4. I read this one back in Junior High and remember loving it. It was so different. I keep meaning to read it again.

  5. Way better than Triffids for me. This is my favourite of Wyndham's works - another to re-read soon.

  6. Coincidentally I have this book on Cd waiting to be listened to, am looking forward to it.
    thanks for sharing

  7. Love dystopian fiction and this is going on the TBR now!

    And you should check out my latest blog post. :) I think you'll find it interesting. Or at least I hope you will. :)

  8. Question: who is not a fan of dystopian fiction?!? ;)

    Ok, I know those people exist, but it's personally one of my favorite genres. I haven't read anything by Wyndham because I admit that I definitely don't read very much science fiction, but I do think that he's an author I would enjoy a lot. I have his book, The Day of the Triffids, so I'll probably start there, but if I enjoy that, then I'm definitely going to be reading this next!

  9. I agree totally with your review. It's a great book and could have been written last year. My review of it is here:

  10. Ti - it is a classic but far more well known in the UK than America I think

    CB James - I have nevr read Triffids or however the heck you spell it. My dads a big fan and he recommended this one over his more famous work.

    LBC- I hope you enjoy it if you ever do get around to reading it

    Chris - I think high school kids would love it since all the main characters are in their teens

    Gaskella - I think its going to be the Kraken next for me as I know nothing about that one!

  11. I've only read Triffids, but I was surprised at how modern it felt. I now have all of Wyndham's books on my shelves and look forward to reading this one soon. Glad to hear you liked it so much.

  12. Oh my gosh!! I was just sorting through my Twitter stream and saw your profile, and realized I hadn't seen a blog post from you in a few months...I linked out to the blog, then went to my reader only to discover I somehow got unsubscribed!! :( I'm so sorry. I have no idea how long I've been missing stuff. :(

  13. I've just started reading "The Day of the Triffids" and I'm really enjoying it so far. This will be on my list not so far in the future. Great review!

  14. Martine - I hope you enjoy it.

    Laura - thanks very much! you have listed some great looking blogs which I want to check out now.

    Steph - I have to admit I have never met anyone who dislikes dystopian fiction but surely they must be out there??

    Jackie - I wonder if it was written today it would be quickly slapped with a YA tag?

    Amanda - haha thats ok, I hope lfe is treating you well :)

    petekarnas - I think day of the Triffids is by far his most famous but pplseem to prefer this one, interesting to see what you make of it

  15. This is the only Wyndham I've read till date, and absolutely loved it. As far as dystopian fiction goes, this is amazing, and I can't wait to read more of his books.

    Glad you enjoyed it as well.