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The Chrysalids

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  42,667 ratings  ·  2,202 reviews
A world paralysed by genetic mutation

John Wyndham takes the reader into the anguished heart of a community where the chances of breeding true are less than fifty per cent and where deviations are rooted out and destroyed as offences and abominations.
Mass Market Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 28th 1977 by Penguin Books (first published 1955)
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Merriman Lyon A chrysalis is a stage of development for an insect from one form to another, usually juvenile to adult. So I am guessing Chrysalid is a (invented) wo…moreA chrysalis is a stage of development for an insect from one form to another, usually juvenile to adult. So I am guessing Chrysalid is a (invented) word that echos this process.
This book is about changing states or evolution of species, predominantly human in this narrative. The constant changing of life and natural hierarchy. In nature nothing is static. Most of Wyndhams novels and short stories seem to flow with this in mind. (less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Em Lost In Books
Imagine a world where a little deviation from the norm in physical appearance means burning and banishment because you are far from what God created. Why there are imperfections when we know perfect exists? God creates perfect humans, plants, and animals, so no deviations have the right to live in the world. They're the work of Devil. A world where people have to give away their loved ones because God has not made them perfect. These deviations or imperfections are known as offenses and blasphem ...more
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
John Wyndham is often described in rather disparaging term as the main proponent of cosy catastrophe. This based on the allegation that his protagonists tend to be English middle class white males who are not much inconvenienced by the apocalypse, somehow continuing to live it up while the rest of the populace suffer. Having read three of his books I find that while the allegation is not entirely unwarranted it is also not quite fair. I hope to write more about this issue when I get around to re ...more
Kylie D
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What if you live in a post-apocalyptic world, where radiation is causing genetic mutations in plants and animals...and humans? What if such mutations are looked upon as being impure and destroyed, or in the case of humans, sterilised and cast out of society? What if your mutation cannot be seen with the naked eye? In The Chrysalids John Wyndham has woven a tale about what could happen in such a dystopian world. The intolerances rising from fear, the sad plight of the outcasts, and the desperate ...more
READ IN 2020
So I had no intention of re-reading this book whatsoever, so why did I ? Well in September I managed to acquire a 1959 paperback edition of this book from a charity shop, and it had sat on my bedside table for a few months until I finished my previous book and just grabbed it to read.
It was yet again an enjoyable read, well written, a good post-apocalyptic story that seems to have been written way before its time.
I have to say that Wyndham is one of my favourite authors.

READ IN 2017
Glenn Russell

On one level, The Chrysalids is the story of a rustic farming community struggling to survive many years following massive global nuclear destruction. These people hold up two sacred texts as absolute truth: the Bible (from the time of the Old People) and Nicholson’s Repentances containing core admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD, WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT!, THE DEVIL IS THE FATHER OF DEVIATION.

The tale is told by protagonist David Strorm. On the novel’s first page, we listen in as Davi
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
B 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
Dan Schwent
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-sf
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
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An oldie but a goodie. Dystopian fiction at it's best from John Wyndham.
The main character David appears at first to be 'normal'. Anyone with a birth defect is a deviant and either killed outright or sent off to The fringes to live with the other mutant.
As he grows up David becomes aware of others like him who can communicate in thought patterns. (Telepathy). This if discovered would be classed as deviant and they and he would be in grave danger.
David has to protect his friends and especially
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-sff-faves
John Wyndham has firmly managed to cement himself as a new favourite author for me after reading this as my second book by him (the first was Day of the Triffids). I think the way Wyndham writes, with inspiration drawn from a cosy British living in the 50s, and the fears brought about from the wartime before, mixed with a great blend of SF elements, just really works for me as a reader, and I find I can really enjoy his stories.

This is the story of David, a young boy who has a troubled upbringi
Chris F
Feb 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Bionic Jean
I love this book! It affects me every time I read it, or listen to/watch an adaptation of The Chrysalids. The depiction of a post-nuclear world, where a tiny minority of telepaths are pitted against the general population of religious bigots is pure Wyndham. He takes just a small step away, presents a "What if?" scenario, and proceeds to show human behaviour in all its aspects, warts and all.
Althea Ann
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems wrong for the first adjective I'd use to describe a rather miserable future dystopia to be "nostalgic" but that was the mood this book swept me into. Not a nostalgia for the world described within the book, but rather for the style of writing. I read a great deal of fiction very similar to this in my early teenage years, but somehow, I believe I missed this one. Even if I had read it before, it would've held up to re-reading - this is quite an excellent book.

In a post-nuclear-war socie
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
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brandon by: Alaina
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
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalypse
John Wyndham and this book pass the time test incredibly well. A fascinating look at post apocalyptic life.
“Life is change... The living form defies evolution at its peril; if it does not adapt, it will be broken. The idea of completed man is the supreme vanity: the finished image is a sacrilegious myth.”
Paul Bryant
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh
A few hundred years after the nuclear holocaust and things are sticky. There’s the Fringe where people have six toes or an extra arm and there are strange creatures like a cross between a hyena and a mushroom pizza and so forth, there’s the Badlands which are so bad one will go to even find out just how bad they are, and there are places even worse that are just mile upon mile of black glass, a challenge for skateboarders. But there are also areas of relative peace and security where it’s almost ...more
Katie Lumsden
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Absolutely brilliant - one of the best books I've read in terms of dealing with a post-apocalyptic world and what they might mean. The writing is beautiful and the characterisation and world-building subtly done. The society Wyndham builds is terrifying and fascinating, and brilliantly created. I think I preferred the slower first half to the more action-driven second half, but this will still definitely be one of my favourites of this year!
Jonathan Terrington

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
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
Hákon Gunnarsson
This was a bit different from The Day of the Triffids, (the only other John Wyndham novel I have read) and a bit similar as well. The Triffids is set during an present day (at the time of publication that is) apocalypse, while The Chrysalids is a post apocalyptic novel set in the future. The plot of both center around characters that are in the run, thought I think it takes longer until that part begins in The Chrysalids. Most importantly for me, I liked both of them.

It's an interesting read at
I lost a lot of sleep because of this book. Simply couldn’t put it down. A puritanical society where any deviation from strict codes of what constitutes normality and thus “godliness” and which destroys everything deemed “deviant” in which a boy born with all the right numbers of fingers and toes and all outward appearances perfectly acceptable, but with a terrible secret to hide: the gift and curse of telepathy which he shares with a small group of other children, which they must hide at all co ...more
Apr 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
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
Paul  Reed
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-read
A very thought-provoking and equally entertaining read that explores various themes close to my heart. Amongst them are the notion of the 'ideal' body, the use and abuse of power, the evolution of the mind and the concepts of truth and falsehood. And the best thing about this book is that it features my favourite kind of fictional characters: wise children with telepathic power!
Ana-Maria Petre
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love clever science fiction because it is far more close to being philosophical than scientific or even fictional. A few more examples from this category are Ray Bradbury's" Fahrenheit 451" , R. A. Heinlein's" Stranger in a Strange Land" and Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot". As in the case of Wyndham's book, they all pose very interesting ontological questions and do not limit themselves to being novel or shocking.

Now, I know there was a golden age when science fiction had only been invented and fly
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book many times over the years and always enjoy it.
The post-apocolyptic life where people are afraid to repeat the past and keep themselves in a simpler, more natural world, where perfection is all. One can banish those with deformities that can be seen but what can one do to protect oneself (and society) from deformities that one cannot see?
The suspense and intrigue carries through to the end.
Marianna Neal
3.5 out of 5 stars

This was my first John Wyndham book, and though I can't say I loved it, I am definitely interested in reading more of his work. This particular post-apocalyptic setting is very interesting, but the characters took a while for me to get into, and the second half of the book was more engaging than the first. Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
#11 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015:

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.
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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'. ...more

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