maandag 29 mei 2017

"The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham

"'Oh, God', I said, 'please, please, God, let me be like other people. I don't want to be different. Won't you make it so that when I wake up in the morning I'll be just like everyone else, please, God, please!'"

Some time in the far future, mankind has reverted to a pre-industrial society. There are no machines, no technology ... There are only very distant memories of the techologically advanced civillisation of the 'Old People', which history tells was destroyed by God. The people are afraid that God will send another 'Tribulation' on the world, so they adhere to God's word, or what they believe to be His word. Everything that doesn't fit the 'perfect' image is shunned, be it plants, animals or people. People who are even slightly different are banished to the Fringes.

Young David Strorm befriends Sophie, a girl who turns out to have six toes on every foot - a 'blasphemy' which will cause Sophie and her family to be run out of town. But David too has a mutation - he can communicate telepatically and there are quite a few of his friends who have the same 'disability'. When their community finds out, they have to flee into the Fringes. But are they really just mutants... or the future of humanity?

"The Chrysalids" is just as good and powerful a novel as Wyndham's more famous "The Day of the Triffids" is. It's an easy read, but still quite profound in its message: societies that try to reach perfection by striving for uniformity, are destined to lose out. Differences in people are to be cherished, not shunned. The ending is slighly bitter, though. Classic dystopian fiction. This would be a good choice for the many people are into the modern YA dystopias, if they want to delve into the history of the genre. It's very accessible and certain to entertain.

Author: John Wyndham
Title: The Chrysalids
Publisher: Gollancz, London
Year: 2016 (orig. 1955)
Number of pages: 201 p.
ISBN: 981473212688

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