Eileen's Reviews > The White Mountains

The White Mountains by John Christopher
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's review
Feb 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-scifi, ya
Read in February, 2011

I read this first as part of an English unit in fifth grade, so when I found it at the library book sale the other day, I grabbed it. This is good, disturbing YA scifi with more formal prose than comparable authors would use today. It really feels related to John Wyndham, with a similar subdued British tone. The story is set in the future, a hundred years after the tripods--gigantic three-legged machines with no visible pilot, portrayed as conscious beings--destroyed most of humanity and enslaved those left with the help of mind-controlling caps. Society has regressed to be agrarian and provincial, with a deep-seated (and at least partly mind-controlled) distrust of anything different. The capping ceremony, done at age 14, is essentially seen as a coming-of-age; really, of course, it's the beginning of a lifelong enslavement, done just when humans are becoming self-sufficient and informed enough to begin questioning their situation. The narrator, 13-year-old Will, realizes something is seriously wrong after the capping of his friend John and a surprising encounter with an uncapped vagrant, who tells him that a few people still live free across the sea in the White Mountains. The rest of the book covers Will's journey to the mountains (i.e. over the English Channel and through France to Switzerland), his growing awareness about his world, and the inevitable pursuit. The cast of characters is very boy-centric, and the tone is a little out of date, but besides that, it's quite good. Now I just have to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy.

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