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When I read this book in high school many years ago it resonated strongly with me. The danger of being different, the "mutation" of religion into a means of abuse and the extremes we can all go to are woven throughout. I have revisited it many times over the years. I highly recommend this author and his other works. Chocky, The Midwich Cukoos, Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes are all especially worth reading.
Rather than being a promotion of Christianity, or forcing it down the reader's throat, this book stresses the dangers of religion gone amuck, religion based on fear, religion as power, religion as control and religion as excuse for intolerance and abuse. The inhabitants of a post nuclear apocalypse world turn to a rigid fundamentalism in their fears of mutation. Everything is judged by a standard which is intolerant of any deviation from the so called norm, even the positive. The book carries the message of inclusion and acceptance with lyrical grace.
John Wyndham was British, not American as stated in another comment.
Not being of any Christian beliefs, myself - This vintage SyFy story (written in 1955 by John Wyndham) completely lost my interest once this unwelcome element of religion was worked into the plot-line where it, unfortunately, prevailed right through to the bitter end.
IMO - SyFy and Christianity make for a terrible pairing in any work of fiction. These two subjects are, pretty much, contradictory in nature. And, with that said - I totally resented author, Wyndham for trying to force Christianity down my throat with this nonsensical story of his. I really do.
First published back in 1955 - "The Chrysalids" (written by American novelist, John Wyndham) actually had some real potential to be an intriguing futuristic SyFy story where nuclear radiation has caused startling mutations in all life (including humans) all across the planet.
But, unfortunately, this work of fiction clearly took a religiously snobbish attitude of that of a Christian fundamentalist. (Yawn-to-the-max!) And, as a result - Its sneering, self-righteous arrogance in believing that "god" will save the day completely destroyed my interest in its story.
And, with that in mind - I came to the conclusion that this book (and its utterly useless message) belonged right in the trash-can.
If you’re looking for a dystopian novel that hits deep, this is it. You live with the novel’s dynamic characters in a world full of terrifying zealots in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster (or so it seems). It all feels a bit too feasible. Yet somehow, amidst the horror, you feel deep love and hope. This quote stuck with me because who hasn’t tried or at least wanted to run away? “In my experience, he told me, if you run away from a thing just because you don’t like it, you don’t know what you find either. Now running to a thing, that’s a different matter, but what would you want to run to?” I really enjoyed it. (submitted by LN)
The Chrysalids was first published in 1955, almost a decade into the Cold War and 10 years after the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, but it's still relatively early in a long lineage of post-nuclear-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. Although intolerance, mutation and evolution are critical to the plot and setting, this focuses more on character development in the protagonist David. You'll find many parallels in other journey stories like Watership Down and contemporary social commentaries like Lord Of The Flies (1954). The ending is conveniently conclusive but properly developed.
I read this book the summer after Grade 9 because my summer school teacher assigned it to us. At first I thought it was too challenging, boring, and I wouldn't actually finish it. Turns out, it's very interesting and I love the mindset of the protagonist. We have some real world issues that are similar to the conflicts found in the book.
The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, takes place in a post-nuclear world. Exposure to nuclear radiation can cause mutations in genes, ultimately resulting in abnormalities. Growing up in an extremist community where abnormalities were considered abominations, David too accepts this notion, or at the very least, does not question it. Anyone, or anything for that matter, that has any sort of deviation from God’s original creation is classed as an abomination. However, as he grows up, he realizes that these beliefs are fundamentally flawed and that he too may harbour some sort of “abomination”. David has two choices: to free himself or to be found out and be killed. Although this book is initially slow and lackluster, things begin to pick up later in the book. Rating: 3/5
- @JuiceboxZ of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
In a cult Christian community, years after a nuclear devastation, the small town of Wanuk follows God's word on exterminating all abominations. David has lived his whole life in fear of his father's tyranny, although he thought he was safe he soon learned that he is a telepath, and frequently communicates with others his age in his village. Soon he and others in his group meet an entire country of telepaths called 'Zealanders'. For something made in the 1950s I am incredibly impressed with the narrative, however at sometimes, it could get confusing.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
“The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham is a post-nuclear apocalypse story about David Strorm and his group of unusual acquaintances. The “unusual” kids are what the society they live in deem to be a “blasphemy against nature” and a “mutant.” The young children are forced to make decisions at young ages that could decide the future of their lives. Do they dare stay at home, where they will be ridiculed or even killed for their differences, or do they flee to the notorious and unknown Badlands?
I recommend this book to lots of teens entering high school. For myself, I decided to read this book because I would have to read it for my Grade 9 english course anyway, and decided to be prepared. I recommend you read this book because not only does it talk about differences within children, but it is also very in touch with religion, and how important and how much of an influence it was in society back then. I found the religion in this book the most interesting because it is interesting to see how other people who have been influenced by religion react to things that their religion considers “wrong.” For example, in one chapter, David gets a cut on his hand, and is trying to bandage it up by himself. After he fails to do so, he has to get help from his mother, and then claims that if he only had an extra arm and hand then he could be able to do it. Everyone in David’s house is shocked, and his father is very very furious. He exclaims things like “how dare you talk that way about the body that God gave you?” and continuously yells about that being a sin and he will be mutant and wrong. This was my favourite part in the book because it really showed what David’s dad really thought, and his emotions and connections with God’s rules. I enjoyed this book all throughout and it would be a great read for anyone interested in this type of book.
- @ReadingMouse of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library
My favourite book of all time! I read it for grade 9 English class, and still love it to this day!
A young boy begins to challenge the way things are in his perfect world when he comes across a little girl, who even though has 6 toes, really isn't all that different.
I always wished there had been a sequel so I could find out what happens to them....
I consider this book a very imaginative book. I read it a while ago but I'm adding it here so I can earn a badge. :)
This book's concept is amazing. The idea of it was like a beacon for me, calling me over to read it. Unfortunately, the delivery of it all was... completely uninteresting. It could have been since it was written half a century ago, but John Wyndham's writing style was, in my opinion, unsatisfactory. He mostly just dragged on, and on just to build up to something so... Anti-climactic! I so badly wanted to enjoy it because again, the idea was fantastic, but actual story just did not hold up.
Having heard of this book for a long time, I decided to read it, and found it a pleasure.
This book has a great idea with many lessons to learn, fueling your ‘why-does-the-world-exist’ type thoughts. This post-apocalyptic world keeps David Strorm trapped in Waknuk, a little town where their biggest achievement is perhaps the steam engine, run by poor Corky. After a nuclear war destroying most of our technology, this takes place in the future, oddly enough. Left with only a Bible to start out with, society in Waknuk has struggled to get on the level the ‘Old People’ were at—some now believing that to be a good thing, considering that God sent tribulation among them. With many characters and problems around every corner, things just don’t seem to be happening in David’s favour. Along with falling in love with a family member, being best friends with a ‘mutant’, and living in a society where technology has stopped progressing, David is brought up to believe that ‘mutants’, people who aren’t in the true image of God, must be sent to Badlands. His father has a lot of power in this belief, and yet David is a mutant himself, along with his sister, cousin, best friend, and niece. The mutants are among them, and for David, everything is just happening too fast. Who is this spider-man from the Badlands? What happened to his niece? Will he ever feel completely safe?
The bad thing about this book is that although it’s 200 pages of sheer poetry and has a fabulous plot, it takes a long while to get to a really exciting point, then everything seems to happen at once, only for David and company to continue on with their lives calmly. The ending is quite abrupt, with many dangling threads left to keep you guessing.
The story becomes uninteresting and a little ridiculous with lines such as "You are a deviation!"
I actually anticipated that this book would be much more interesting than it really was. From looking at the six-toed feet on the cover, I assumed mutants are going to be in it. I knew virtually nothing about the author John Wyndham, so I prepared myself for the worst and hoped for the best. Fortunately, the book started off great. It was about the everyday life of a boy living in a post-apocalyptic society. Wyndham had a great imagination to make up this corrupt world of Labrador, filled with corrupt beliefs and practices. The characters were mostly interesting. Some were cruel and full of prejudice, and others were kind and open-minded. These contrasting characters made the world seem more realistic and vivid, and the one character used as the author’s mouthpiece sounded believable. If there was anything I hated, it was the lack of exploration. For more than half the book the protagonist David stuck in Labrador with very little danger and conflict, when all I wanted to know was more about the outside world. The author gives some information about it, but not enough that would satisfy the average reader. And when the going gets going and the book is at its climax, a lot of detail seems to be missing. The one long action sequence in this book has minimal detail and hardly any emotion. So when you finally finish the book, you wonder if something’s missing or if the author felt like rushing it. Overall, this book is worth a read. I have a feeling that he used his heart and soul to write this book, so I give a nod to Wyndham for this wondrous work.
I have always loved this book. I first read it in High School English class. This is a classic Science Fiction book by a great author. I've always wished he had written a sequel so we find out what happens after David, Rosalind and Petra are rescued. It's also a great cautionary tale about how religion can stifle people. Set in the future hundreds of years after a global nuclear war, the setting is a community of religious and genetic fundamentalists who want to recreate the world that was. They haven't learned anything. "There was the power of gods in the hands of children, we know: but were they MAD children, all of them quite mad?... The mountains are cinders and the plains are black glass -- still, after centuries!... It is frightening to think that a whole race could go insane..." People who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, the rest of us are dragged along with them most of the time.....
I don't usually read Science Fiction - but I really appreciate John Wyndham's writing. He creates such interesting characters - and it is unbelievable how relevant the story is today.
One of my favourite books of all time. A classic that's also good for younger fans of dystopian fiction.
I read this in my grade 9 english class, but was tempted to reread it recently. This book is so well thought out and planned, with a perfect amount of foreshadowing and an objectively determined plot. Great dystopian fiction!
Interesting read with great themes - good for a book discussion group.
I first read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham many years ago as a student, and about all I retained from then was the feeling that I really liked the book. My re-read has confirmed that, yes, I do really like this book. On so many levels this story of life after the nuclear holocaust is well done, imaginative and leaves us with many questions to ponder.
Very subtly written, with religious overtones, I can see why this book was chosen for students to read. Instead of laying out his opinions, the author gently sets the scene and lets his reader reach his or her own opinion. Questions of what is normal, how much direct truth can we take from the bible, and why do we, as humans, cling to bigotry and cruelty are all part of this story.
A group of young people living in a strait-laced rural community are different. Their difference is not evident to the naked eye. They can communicate by thoughts. People, animals and crops that are not “normal” are considered deviants and while the animals and crops are destroyed, the people are sterilized and sent to live in a wild area called The Fringe. Eventually some of the thought-senders are discovered, tortured and made to reveal the identity of others. Our three main characters manage to flee to the Fringe, but do not find safety there either. One thought sender, is able to send her thoughts half-way around the world and manages to contact people that are like them.
Well written though slightly dated, I was totally caught up in the story. I find it interesting that not all was neatly wrapped up at the end of the book. If The Chrysalids were to be written today, I’m sure it would be the first part of a YA trilogy. When John Wyndham wrote it back in the fifties, he wisely ended the story and allowed his audience to reach their own conclusions.
What can I say... a classic now and always. I loved this book and highly recommend reading it. Great concept, and captivating the entire way through.
This is an interesting book and puts forth a futuristic look but still can be compared to other issues in today's world. That people's differences are not necessarily bad and can be seen as evolutionary adaptation. I did like the book but only gave it a 3 because I found the ending to be a bit of a let down and petering out after a good beginning.