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The Chrysalids
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The Chrysalids

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  24,256 ratings  ·  1,054 reviews
David Storm's father doesn't approve of Angus Morton's unusually large horses, calling them blasphemies against nature. Little does he realise that his own son, and his son's cousin Rosalind and their friends, have their own secret aberration which would label them as mutants. But as David and Rosalind grow older it becomes more difficult to conceal their differences from ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published August 7th 2008 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1955)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This has been on my shelf, unread, since uni, when I picked it up second-hand after reading and loving The Day of the Triffids, recommended to me by my mum. I can't believe I waited so long to read this amazing book, and if there is one book you should read in your life it is this one.

It has been a long time - how long no one can say, though surely centuries - since God sent the Tribulation to the Old People (us), near destroying everything we had built and learned. The Tribulation continues: t
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
It is certainly easy to classify John Wyndham's The Chrysalids as old school YA fiction, from before YA fiction needed a label, but it offers more than your average after school special between covers in that it treats the reader as an intelligent and reasonable person, and that while there is a touch of the 50s to the book, it was certainly way ahead of it's time.

David Strorm is the only living son of a patriarch of an ultra-religious post-apocalyptic community. Faced a level of mutation in the
...more
Dan 1.0
The Chrysalids is my new favorite John Wyndham book. It's about conformity in a post-nuclear holocaust world. David and his friends live in an isolated community called Waknuk on the island of Labrador. After seeing one of his friends cast out into the Fringes for having a sixth toe, David begins mistrusting his upbringing. Once he discovers that he and a small group of his friends are telepathic, things only get worse.

Wyndham draws on the paranoia and distrust of the deviations from the norm th
...more
Brandon
Many years have passed since a devastating nuclear war left much of the world in ruins. A small village in northern Labrador comprised of religious fundamentalists is on the lookout for what they call “deviations” - food, animals or even people who deviate from the socially acceptable norm. Once these deviations have been discovered, it is either to be destroyed on the spot or if you’re one of the few people born with a deformity, sterilized and banished from the community, destined to live in w ...more
El
I nominated this book for my real-life book club because I was trying to think of something that would fit a Halloween-sort-of theme, and some description I saw of this book mentioned the Devil, so why not?

Sorry, book club. Not very Halloween-y, eh? And, apparently (at least in Pittsburgh), really difficult to find. I failed you all this month.

It is a post-apocalyptic novel, though, and I'm usually down for that. This particular post-ap novel is also a coming-of-age story, which I have to admit
...more
Manny
Perhaps the best sound-bite from the anti-evolution camp is the one about the tornado. If a tornado hit a junkyard, how likely is it that it would randomly create a 747? I was surprised to learn the other day that the line originally comes from Fred Hoyle, the brilliant but eccentric astrophysicist who also coined the phrase "Big Bang". Of course, it's not a fair comparison. The whole point, as everyone from Darwin onward has explained, is that evolution isn't a one-shot process; it's the result ...more
Jonathan

Having recently read John Wyndham's famous novel The Day of the Triffids, which is known more for the film adaptations, I decided to read another of Wyndham's books. The result left me very satisfied and I must conclude that Wyndham now holds a place on my (imaginary) bookshelf of favourite classic sci-fi authors alongside Wells, Asimov and Verne to name a few.

The idea of The Chrysalids is simple but executed extremely well. As a result The Chrysalids is a complement to the aesthetic as well as
...more
Chris F
Feb 28, 2009 Chris F rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who would like a very obvious example of wolf in sheep's clothing manipulative techniques
At first it seems as if John Wyndham is making the point that those with physical deformities are humans just like everyone else, and should be treated as such. However if we divide this book into heroes and villains, and weigh up the pros and cons for each group we find that the “heroes” are the greater monsters. If the villains are defined by their intolerance of anyone or anything that deviates from the norm then our band of heroes, and their ultimate savior, are the worst offenders. I was le ...more
Simon
A post apocalyptic world in which society puritanically tries to resist the deviations that beset their crops, livestock and people through genetic mutations.

David Strorm, never quite understanding his father's fervour for normality soon discovers that he (and certain others) deviate from the norm in a new and undetectable way. As they try to keep their difference hidden and try to be normal, they eventually discover that they won't ever fit in and with the arrival of David's sister Petra, it b
...more
Paul Reed
I usually have a three book rule which states that I only read three consecutive books by any author. It's mostly to stop me from getting bored. Not so with Wyndham. I'm four in and still wanting more. I haven't read the Chrysalids since I was a youth, and, understandably, a lot of the evolutionary/religious themes were lost on me back then. It's a much richer reading experience now. As usual with Wyndham, this is a story which raises all manner of questions regarding what constitutes perfection ...more
Robert
With this novel Wyndham abandons his contemporary-documentary settings and style and tells a future-post-nuclear-holocaust tale instead - and wow! What a difference!

In contrast to a rather dry telling of a tale in which there is little by way of incident, if possibly a lot by way of thought-provocation, as can be found in The Midwich Cuckoos or Trouble with Lichen, this is a story with much in the vein of adventure story but also a message about religion, (in)tolerance and differences between pe
...more
Hannah
I read this book last year for school, and although it took me a while to really get into it, the last hundred pages or so were amazing. I really loved the idea of human mutations as a result of (what I assumed) some kind of nuclear world war. Wyndham would have been heavily influenced by the post-war times that he lived in and I thought his aptitude for understanding the ways of the human race appeared in this book profoundly. I'm obsessed with dystopian/science-fiction novels and this one is p ...more
Jen
Loved, loved, loved this book! Post-apocalyptic dystopia, religious fanatics, what's not to love?
Rykel
This novel really surprised me. I thought I was in for another dose of boring psycho-babble but I was glad I was wrong and the more I began to read I realised I just couldn't put it down.The Characters are so interesting especially David's allies, "Michael" and "Rosalind", the novel could have been written from any of these character's Pov and it would still have been great. I loved the whole telekinesis thing and the fact that David's dad,"Joseph Strorm" was as much of a zealous (then again may ...more
Rob Bliss
This is seriously good!

It's on par with 1984 and Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies and should be taught in schools (maybe it is, some high schools not run by idiots like at my high school). It is sci-fi and fantasy as much as Orwell is, but Orwell is taken seriously, and this is maybe just seen as a young teen book or something.

Curriculums need to rediscover this book. Its about 200 pages, so dont worry you wont strain yourself. And it'll teach so much in so few pages. Amazing how much Wyndham
...more
Nikki
I've been meaning to read The Chrysalids since it was mentioned in Among Others (reading books Mori mentions hasn't steered me wrong, so far). I'm glad I got round to it. I enjoyed Wyndham's Day of the Triffids, but I enjoyed The Chrysalids rather more: I fell in love with the way he created a whole post-apocalyptic world in just a few pages. I loved all the details of it -- harsh and oppressive as it would be to live that life, it's a fantastic read for someone interested in post-apocalyptic dy ...more
Richard
The Chrysalids is a great science fiction story that has a lot of relevence to our current society (as most good science fiction does) and also happens to be a bit of a page turner. Set in a post-apocalyptic future that is only just starting to recover from a bad case of global warming and nuclear fallout, the story concerns a boy growing up in a strict pre-industrial fundamentalist Christian society that's just barely keeping it together. The religion is based around two books - the bible, the ...more
Charity
A post-apocalyptic dystopia by John Wyndham!!!! Is this my own little Utopia? No, because the world as we know it has ended by (what you can only infer to be) a nuclear holocaust and it is being ruled by religious zealots! Ahhhhhh! Say it ain't so!!

This book is amazingly good. As good as, if not better than, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids (and those who know my love for those books know that this says A LOT). Wyndham really hit this out of the park and created a world that is so
...more
Mia
This novella is simple but wonderfully executed. I have read a lot from the dystopian genre, ranging in publication from the 40s to today. Generally I find the earlier works to be more significant but less engrossing, the contemporary works to be action-packed but often lacking in originality and/or quality, with my favourites coming from the 80s-90s (e.g. The Handmaid's Tale and Obernewtyn -- which is remarkably similar to The Chrysalids). I loved this book, and can't think of anything I would ...more
F.R.
Wow!

Somehow or other I’ve managed to reach nearly forty years old without ever reading ‘The Chrysalids’. I am now most definitely hanging my head in shame.

‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ with its sinister blonde haired children in an English country village and ‘The Day of the Triffids’ with its dangerous, sentient plants, just seem a lot more part of British cultural life than John Wyndham’s other books.

Maybe that’s because they’re the two with the numerous film and TV adaptations.

And yet ‘The Chrysalids
...more
T. Edmund
I love 'old-timey' books like this one, far from the over-polished or over-cooked youth dystopian fiction of today, Chrysalids is rough dirty, and more believable.

The story is set in a world where mutations are damned, the protagonist a young child who doesn't understand the wrath thrown at anything mildly different.

Four stars only rewarded however, I felt like despite the brilliant premise and excellent beginning chapters, the story went in a direction that I did not enjoy, after a while I foun
...more
Vanessa
This was my first John Wyndham book, and not what I had expected. I believe The Chrysalids is something of an anomaly in Wyndham's work, being set in a futuristic Canada, and not mid-twentieth-century England as his others are. It follows the narrator David, as he grows up in a very restricted community where anyone or anything seeming to have physically deviated from the normal 'God's image' is either sterilised and banished to "The Fringes" or killed. David himself has a telepathic ability tha ...more
Mark
This used to be my favourite Wyndham when i read them in the 1970's and early 80's but I think it has been supplanted as i have re-read them by ' The Midwich Cuckoos ' . Not quite sure why this is but I wonder whether it's because this has less links to my own experience of life. By that I do not mean i have more in common with a village in which all the women, or at least most of them, were impregnated by weird alien invaders...i refrain from any cheap Norfolk jokes...but rather that ' The Chry ...more
David Sarkies
May 11, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People wanting some good science-fiction
Shelves: sci-fi
Those who fear that which is different
15 September 2010

I remember that when I bought this book somebody said to me that it was brilliant. Having now read it (and it only took me the first ten pages to realise it) I must wholeheartedly agree with this person. This is indeed a brilliant book. As I was reading it I was reminded me a lot of 'The Day of the Triffids' and my hunch was correct that it indeed was written by the same author.
This book is set far into the future. The world has been destr
...more
Corinne
The premise of this book is so promising: a great "Tribulation" has swept the earth and genetic mutations are rampant. Many small communities have vague legends of the "Old People" who once lived and their highly religious societies have defined a "human" in very specific terms. Five fingers. Five toes. Two eyes. And if a person deviates from this strict definition of a pure human, they are a menace to society and not tolerated.

Our main character, David, is raised in this fundamentalist society
...more
Parksy
CLASSIC! - read it again in November 2007 and couldn't put it down!

-----

It is some time hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years after an atomic war shattered civilization and left large parts of the world uninhabitable. Among the rural people of what used to be Newfoundland, the danger of mutation has led to a strict and ruthless definition of what constitutes humanity. Any deviation from the norm is considered an abomination. If livestock, it is slaughtered. Humans are banished to the barbarou
...more
Michael
Wyndham's post-apocalyptic novel from the 50s recently was reissued by the New York Review of Books imprint, and thus my expectations were raised for this little sci-fi novel. Wyndham writes with the ease and clarity of a professional, especially geared toward a younger reader in its simple prose and innocent perspective. These aspects, though they may be the reason this book is still read today, hamper a serious look at the subject matter.

In David's world, Labrador hundreds of years from today
...more
The_Bookchemist
An excellent excercise in post-apocalyptic fiction from a master of the genre - compelling storytelling, intelligent reflections and believable characters. An amazing reading experience.
PS, chrysalids = readers. Think about it.
Sarah
Loved it - I find dystopian future novels fascinating anyway, and this one was another great read, very fast-paced and entertaining.

However. As usual I have a few complaints.

1. Ending paragraphs with ellipses....
Melodramatic and irritating.

2. At various times certain characters would expound things about the world (or their view of it) in huge long spiels that went for pages. It's a very clunky exposition style that could've been woven in more skillfully.

3. The ending was a bit weird. I didn't
...more
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All About Fantasy: The Chrysalids 1 8 Dec 02, 2013 04:10AM  
NYRB Classics: The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham 1 8 Oct 22, 2013 09:49AM  
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John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was the son of a barrister. After trying a number of careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, he started writing short stories in 1925. After serving in the civil Service and the Army during the war, he went back to writing. Adopting the name John Wyndham, he started writing a form of science fiction that he called 'logical fantasy. A ...more
More about John Wyndham...
The Day of the Triffids The Midwich Cuckoos Chocky Kraken Wakes Trouble With Lichen

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“So you're in love with her?' she went on.

A word again ... When the minds have learnt to mingle, when no thought is wholly one's own, and each has taken too much of the other ever to be entirely himself alone; when one has reached the beginning of seeing with a single eye, loving with a single heart, enjoying with a single joy; when there can be moments of identity and nothing is separate save bodies that long for one another ... When there is that, where is the word? There is only the inadequacy of the word that exists.

'We love one another,' I said.”
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“The essential quality of life is living' the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution; and we are part of it.” 24 likes
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