Remy Sharp's Reviews > The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
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really liked it

** spoiler alert ** I did enjoy this story (the 3 stars wasn't a 5 for any negative reasons) - it's pretty well paced, and discusses some particularly interesting ideas – and at the time I read this book whilst I was also reading A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes which is pertinent to the subject matter The Chrysalids covers: genetics.

This particular edition was also prefaced with an introduction essay, which I feel like I'm cheating when I read, because it explains core concepts much more explicitly and throughout the story, these ideas are provided additional context for me.

The story follows David and his struggle to fit in in the world (or certainly his world). The planet has been ravished by something that has scrambled DNA across all life, and humanity (as we meet it in the start of the book) is holding dearly onto "pure" existence. "Pure" being applied to crops, animals and humans, or "man".

The result of a non-pure human (an extra toe or misshapen bones or perhaps an extra chromosome?) leads to that individual being sent to the "Fringes", perhaps even exiled to the Badlands, or just murdered. For intolerance.

Except David does not fit in, and the community is ultimately fearful of change and they religiously to stem it's progress. The thing is: life is change.


One of the more poignant moments (to me) was between David and his uncle (who is sympathetic to "Deviations"), where his uncle questions the ideas and definitions of "pure" and "pure man", and how it is horribly flawed.

This entire exchange prompted me to consider what we, in our society and our communities accept as written in stone. And perhaps I'd do well to remember that just because something "is" doesn't mean it should be.


A character that I struggled a little with, was Sophie. Her character early in the story was strong and inquisitive about the world. When we meet her much later in the story and in life, she knows what she wants, but her wants are limited to the world she now exists in. Specifically she works to protect her position as the raped partner of the head of her tribe.

Sophie's character is possibly the most heartbreaking, and I wish she had been able to escape her destiny.

Yet, when David, his cousin Rosalind and his sister Petra escape to a new land at the end of the story, the intolerance exists in this new community, though it seems the only difference is that they know that they will be succeeded eventually (and not without putting up a fight).

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Reading Progress

August 27, 2017 – Shelved
August 27, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
December 23, 2018 – Started Reading
January 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

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