Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Chrysalids” as Want to Read:
The Chrysalids
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Chrysalids

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  39,480 ratings  ·  1,975 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Chrysalids, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  39,480 ratings  ·  1,975 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Chrysalids
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 ...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
Apatt
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 ...more
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:
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Tracey
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
...more
Kaitlin
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...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
Brandon
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 ...more
Emma
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.”
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
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
...more
Ashley
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!
Adrian
Another wonderfully written Wyndham book. Similar to some of the other reviewers I find that Wyndham's writing draws you in, and before you know it an hour has passed (Not lost as reading is never about losing time) and you want to carry on to continually find out what happens next.
As with some of his other novels I would have loved a sequel to find out how the characters fared on the next stage of their journey, but maybe thats the sign of a good writer, leave the reader wanting more.
In my view
...more
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
...more
Simon
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
...more
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 ...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.
Petra
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.
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
#11 in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIWkw...

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.
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.
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
...more
Ilana
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 ...more
Ana
The good guys vs bad guys narrative really gets complicated by the end of this novel...
Mary ♥
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4/5 stars

The essential quality of life is living' the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution; and we are part of it.

TW: Domestic abuse, mention of suicide, religion twisted into hate

Oh well, this is going to be interesting. I read the Chrysalids during August, and I can still remember most of my thoughts and feelings about it, as they were quite mixed. First of all, I have to say that this is a great starting point for the people who want to get into classics, as it leans
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Globe Tuesday Boo...: The Chrysalids 1 6 Oct 01, 2018 02:46PM  
Around the Year i...: The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham 2 15 Oct 18, 2017 11:54PM  
What was the Zealand woman's philosophy? 22 230 Apr 05, 2016 03:20PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: The Chrysalids 1 18 Mar 24, 2015 07:52PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Night of the Triffids
  • Historias extrañas
  • Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature
  • The Death of Grass
  • Başka Dünyalarda Canlı Mahlukat Var Mıdır?
  • The Green Rust
  • Trillions
  • The Death Mask: And Other Ghosts
  • All Aboard for Ararat
  • Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture
  • We
  • Boom
  • Paperback Oxford English Dictionary
  • Bond 11+: Maths: Assessment Papers
  • Target Your Maths Year 4: Year 4
  • The Lion Children's Bible
  • The Magical Harry Potter Quiz Book: 1850 questions
  • Bond 11+: English: Assessment Papers: 10-11+ years Book 2
See similar books…
1,239 followers
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
“The essential quality of life is living' the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution; and we are part of it.” 48 likes
“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.”
39 likes
More quotes…