"The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham
As Bill Masen lies in a hospital bed, bandages over his eyes, he misses the most spectacular meteor shower anyone has ever seen. But the next morning, he realizes that something happened over night that no one saw coming.
After removing the bandages, he finds that everyone who witnessed the meteor shower has mysteriously gone blind. As the masses wander the city in hopes of finding answers, he searches for others like him and happens upon a woman named Josella, who also still has her sight. As they try to leave the city, it becomes clear that the world they knew is no more.
But the loss of sight has given opportunity to a new threat - the Triffids. These strange plants that began to appear throughout the world years earlier can pull up their roots from the ground to walk. At over seven feet tall, they can kill a person with one quick lash. And now, with humans unable to keep them at bay, they are poised to take over the world.
The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham, was written in 1951 and is a chilling account of bio-warfare and mass destruction that played upon the Cold War fears of the time. A haunting premise, it remains a chilling tale even for today.
I have been wanting to read this book for a while and when my husband mentioned that he was going to listen to the audiobook, I decided to pick it up and read it along with him (the first time we’ve done this.) I was in a bit of a reading slump, so I thought it would be good to have a partner. I don’t think I would have needed a partner though to get me through this book. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.
I am starting to read more classic science fiction/horror books and this one stands out as one of the best. Like many people, I thought it was going to be more about the Triffids but the lack of this makes absolutely no difference. This book plays on our fears of biological and chemical warfare leading toward an apocalyptic world. It is fascinating to read this knowing it is reflective of the fears of the time period and knowing that things very much remain the same today.
The book isn’t just about the horrors of war or the threat of annihilation. It’s about morality and the things that we as humans need to do to survive. It’s about how precarious our world is and how quickly our motives and actions change when our safety net is pulled out from under us. This made for a very thrilling and thought-provoking book.
If you’re a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, there is going to be a lot of the familiar in this book (I’m looking at you The Walking Dead.) Go back to the beginning of this genre and see why this book is a classic. I don’t pretend to know much about writing styles or literary theories, but I do know that, for me, this book has stood the test of time. I loved this book and highly recommend it.
(Once my husband I completed this book, we decided to watch the films. The 1962 version is very different from the book, and of course, pretty tame by today’s horror movie standards. Up next, we plan to watch the 2009 mini-series.)