Penny's Reviews > The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
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Sep 16, 07

Read in June, 1980

When I was about 14, I read my father's old Penguin classic copy -- a bright orange paperback from the 1950s. And absolutely loved it. I've read it countless times since, and is one of the books I think about most. Officially my favorite book.

Having said that -- it has no literary pretensions, most characters are fairly one dimensional, and the triffids themselves (walking, thinking, carnivorous plants) I have always thought of as a rather annoying distraction. What gripped me, and grips me still, is the central premise -- that one day, the vast majority of humanity goes blind (Jose Saramago, the Nobel prize winner, has the same premise in "Blindness," but for my money Wyndham makes a better job of it).

What got me was the ease with which civilization is destroyed. Something enters the atmosphere looking like a green comet and puts on a breathtaking show -- nearly everyone on earth rushes out to watch, and wakes up blind. This is easily 99% of humanity. The few sighted people must decide whether to help the people around them, or to go off and set up their own society. In the middle of the book, there is a talky chapter in which various sighted people debate the options.

The main character is a guy called Bill Masen, who was in a hospital outside London with his eyes bandaged on the day of the comet. Through him we see the fate of London and the British countryside.

If this book were written today, it would be 1000 pages (The Stand, anyone?). Wyndham brings it in at about 200. A fast read, and a brilliant conceit.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Christopher I'm currently reading this on the oranage and white copy you mentioned. Possibly the oldest copy of a book I've read!


Gareth Rowlands You know how I feel about this one, Penny :) And I had the same Penguin edition from my Dad, too.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Short I 'borrowed' my fathers copy too when I was about 16. I must read this again.


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