Philip's Reviews > The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
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Apr 09, 12


And the award for most misleading cover goes to… The Crysalids! My copy has a green, insect-like humanoid brandishing some kind of spear/mace combination. There is no such creature (or weapon for that matter) in this book. In fact there are no alien creatures in this book at all; all the characters are human… more or less.

That’s the central question of this book. Are humans who are born imperfect -- according to the laws of the puritanical society they live in -- more human or less human than their unremarkable peers?

Set in an unspecific time that feels like the future, but people live like they did in the past; using horses for transport, farming by hand, etc., something called Tribulation has taken place and seems to have taken most of the world’s population with it. The remaining pockets of humans have regressed to a God-fearing clan who will banish you should you be born with an extra toe, or your arm is a little too long. These people are called abominations and fearing that God (or his self-appointed lackeys here on Earth) will smite anyone who tolerates someone ‘not of the true image’ they have to keep their secret or risk being exiled to the wastelands.

David is different, but his aberration is not physical; he can share his thoughts with others like himself over great distance. They are the crysalids of the title - the pupa form in the next stage of human evolution. David is able to keep his secret reasonably well hidden until his younger sister shows that she has the same talent, only she is much more powerful. Soon, the pitchforks and flaming torches are out and our heroes are on the run.

The only other Wyndam book I’ve read is The Day of the Triffids, which is one of the few books I didn’t bluff my way through at school, but based on this I’ll be seeking out his back catalogue and maybe giving Triffids a re-read as well.

The Crysalids is a great story that moves at a cracking pace and really engages the reader the whole way through, and as a novel for young-adult readers the message couldn’t be better…

If everyone around you is one way, and you’re another, maybe it’s you that’s special and the rest who aren’t.
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