The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham *****(*)
(copied from my blog thread, and from the Isle of Wight thread)
I'm not sure how I got through my youth without reading John Wyndham, especially with such enjoyment of science fiction at the time, but I did, and so forty years or so later I come upon him for the first time. Blame the English Counties Challenge for the fact that I ever landed up reading any of Wyndham's books, as I certainly had no intention otherwise.
Which would have been very much my loss, because this has proved one of the best surprises for years. The Day of the Triffids is told in a very straightforward way, by the main protagonist, Bill, a Triffid biologist. The human race has suffered a catastrophic and almost universal total loss of sight after a celestial event, conditions that leave the way free for triffids, a plant mutation that can walk and attack humans, to thrive. Sounds highly unlikely told like that, but it is frighteningly and grippingly plausible in John Wyndham's hands. Some humans, Bill (our hero) included, have been fortunate to escape blindness. But can they survive?
In many respects, The Day of the Triffids is somewhat old-fashioned, not least in the virtual invisibility of technology. Its style is somewhat dated too, not surprising given it was written in the fifties. However, the issues it raises, the questions asked across a whole range of issues are all too topical and challenging, not least in the fragility of our position on this planet, which could so easily be change by events beyond our control, and what might happen if that position was every challenged. And whilst it might feel a little on the older side as a story, it has lost none of its ability to keep the reader enthralled and on their toes. I particularly enjoyed the relationship with and character of Josella - a love interest with genuine strength; whilst the book may have given away its age in some respects (and none the worse for that), Josella smacked very much of the twenty-first century - or, at least, what one like the twenty-first century to be like.
Overall then, The Day of the Triffids proved itself to be an outstanding book, one of the best in recent months. The one big question that does raise its head though, Is how on earth is this the book in the English Counties Challenge as the Isle of Wight novel? Certainly, the island is mentioned, but not a single complete page of the book is actually set on the island. It's a complete mystery!
Edited by willoyd, 02 March 2016 - 11:23 PM.