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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-Apocalyptic Genius
The Chrysalids tells the story of an isolated remnant of human civilisation struggling to rebuild in a world that was devastated (by thermonuclear war - although he never says this directly it is clear from the effects he describes).
The story works superbly by not providing too much detail - it invites the reader to fill in the blanks and is a much more intelligent...
Published on 30 Jan. 2006 by Wordy

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An old favouite revisited
On a long car journey recently heard a radio dramatization of this book. Reminded me what an excellent story it was when I read it as a youth (when the prospects of thermo nuclear war were very real and frightening).
So bought it for my Kindle and loved reading it all over again.
Published on 20 Sept. 2012 by Malcolm N. Baldwin


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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post-Apocalyptic Genius, 30 Jan. 2006
By 
Wordy (Cromer, Norfolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The Chrysalids tells the story of an isolated remnant of human civilisation struggling to rebuild in a world that was devastated (by thermonuclear war - although he never says this directly it is clear from the effects he describes).
The story works superbly by not providing too much detail - it invites the reader to fill in the blanks and is a much more intelligent take on the post apocalyptic genre. The 'how it happened' aspect of the story is secondary to dealing with the human issues.
In particular Wyndham's vision of a society that has reverted to an extreme paranoid interpretation of the bible is superb - the paranoia over checking for mutants amongst them has strong overtones of the Salem witch trials etc.
I am a relative newcomer to John Wyndham and read The Day of the Triffids before moving on to his other work. Having now read most of his novels I would rate The Chrysalids as his best.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is change, that's how it differs from the rocks, 14 Nov. 2005
By 
Sally-Anne "mynameissally" (Leicestershire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Mass Market Paperback)
This was what Wyndham did best: he's created horrible futures for us. He was a dab-hand at the nightmare vision. Like 'The Day of the Triffids' and 'The Kraken Wakes', 'The Chrysalids' points to a grim, dystopian future where people struggle to survive and reconstruct lost order and security after a terrible disaster. But whereas the events that led up to the annihilation of most of the human population in The Triffids and The Kraken were explained in detail in those books, the devastation of huge areas of the planet that are described in The Chrysalids, occurred hundreds of years before the time this story begins. The people have not the vaguest memory and no documented reports of how it happened. It seems probable to the reader, from revelations about the after effects of the killer event, that what happened all that time ago was a nuclear holocaust. All the signs point to it, so it's ironic that the people of Waknuk in Labrador, where this tale is focused, have been struggling to re-establish their lives in the image of the much revered 'Old People' and the halcyon days when life was happy and untroubled by the horrors of what they call 'tribulation'. Even though they believe the Old People brought down the wrath of God upon themselves and their descendents, they know nothing of nuclear war. So they're working to redeem themselves in the eyes of God. One way they try to do this is by ensuring the destruction of mutants. Humans must conform to the image of God, as they believe God intended. Any human that deviates from that norm is considered an abomination. Human mutants are sterilized and ejected from the community, mutant animals are slaughtered and mutant crops are burned. Then, quietly and undetected, a different kind of human mutation evolves. For a long time it goes unnoticed, because these new mutants look normal. However, they have certain mental abilities beyond what is normal and acceptable. This aberration isn't discovered by the normals until some bad luck and carelessness draws attention to the change. When the mutation is discovered, the reaction of the community is ruthless. In their hysterical state of fear and loathing, they mean to root out every last abomination. At some level they must understand that this particular mutation, far from dragging them into mutational melt-down, might actually replace them as the dominant species. The future looks bleak for these young people. They must hide their talent or run away, but where can they go? Life in the wild fringes beyond the slowly genetically stabilizing safe region where they live, is a horrible lurid area of unstable biology and lawlessness, and beyond that chaotic zone there is no life in the burnt badlands.
Wyndham was full of apocalyptic ideas and post-apocalyptic strategies for the survival of the human species. His main protagonists are reasonable, well balanced and humane people who are forced by circumstances beyond their control to be practical - taking whatever distasteful steps seem necessary in order to survive. The stories are always compelling and interesting. The Chrysalids is no exception: interesting characters with a bit of depth, a desperate situation calling for desperate measures, and all adding up to a good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction at its finest, 17 Nov. 2007
By 
Mr. Stuart Bruce "DonQuibeats" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Mass Market Paperback)
Before I read "The Chrysalids" the title of the book made me expect something very similar to John Wyndham's "The Day Of The Triffids", and that 'chrysalids' would be some form of monster or danger. In fact this story is quite different in many ways.

This novel is post-apocalpyptic but warns of dangers quite different to those hinted at in "..Triffids". The world has experienced a holocaust, details of which are never too closely explained, which is one of the ways in which the novel can remain timely. Surviving tribes have reverted to pre-industrial and extremely religious ways of life, because the Bible was the only book to have survived intact from 'the old times'. So God-fearing are these people that any child, animal or crop that shows any sign of genetic deformity is immediately and brutally killed. The story centres around David, a young man who slowly realises that he has telepathic abilities, and that there are others around him who share these powers.

Like "Triffids", the novel is science fiction at its finest, that manages to say a lot about modern society without prescription or Star Trek-style condascending tones- but with healthy doses of adventure thrown in. In particular "Chrysalids" is very concerned with issues of organised religion, and religious fervour, which are handled excellently.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A community of the future., 15 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
I first read this book more than forty years ago and it still grips. Small communities struggle to survive when deviations appear amongst the farms, whether it is mutant corn, animals, and even humans who are considered to be possessed by the Devil.The story explains how these mutations appeared, and what happens when some young people began to experience thought transference. They become outcasts, but find friends in unexpected places. It is a pity that this story, unlike some of John Wyndham's other novels, has never been filmed. A good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Examining society through science fiction, 6 Sept. 2012
By 
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Paperback)
I read this years ago, and though I have always said that as a genre science fiction is not something I'm particularly interested in, of course, in the hands of a fine writer (Wyndham was) it provides a brilliant way of taking a more reflective look at our own society.

Written in the 50s, where the grim realities of the devastation of war, the destructive power of nuclear weapons, and the use of propaganda and control were hugely in use - the Cold War creating bogeymen from both sides of the Iron Curtain - this dystopian view of a world destroyed by some long ago catastrophe (clearly the fall out from nuclear Armageddon) must have seemed particularly potent.

Society is once again primitive and there is total control exercised by fundamentalist Christianity - its like going back to the seventeenth century and the fear of witchcraft - except the society being pictured is clearly both the America of McCarthyism and the Russia of Stalin. Here, birth defects (caused, the reader quickly realises, through the effects of widespread deviation) are feared, seen as evidence of God's punishment and disfavour. Such deviation from the norm - whether in humans, other animals or vegetables, must be destroyed.

But what about deviation which may not be visible - a deviation of thought - here is where the parallels between the McCarthy witchhunts and their terror of reds under the bed, and those reds own terror of deviation from received thinking - become clear.

Wyndham wraps this all together in an exciting plot-line, with the central characters, and the hopes for a better future, residing in the young.

He is far more than a polemicist - the philosophical considerations arise perfectly from within the characters themselves. He is that wonderful mixture - a superb storyteller, a creator of interesting and layered characters, and a writer with something to say.

This is enough to make me want to revisit all the other post war, on-the-edge-of-a-nuclear-apocalypse territory writing Wyndham created. I never particularly think of Wyndham as a science fiction writer (which he is) but purely as a writer. And a fine one, at that
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Park Year Six review of The Chrysalids, 30 Jun. 2008
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Mass Market Paperback)
We think that Wyndham's book 'The Chrysalids' was an extraordinary book with amazing descriptions. This book would be suitable for people of 11 years and upwards. Some of the ideas are quite challenging, but we read it in class, and were able to have discussions about some of these elements, for example whether the Great Horses were a deviation or not.

The book starts with David's dream of a calm sea, and a shining city with flying fish shaped machines, but this is a world that the people of Waknuk have never seen. The introduction made us think initially that the book might be a little boring, but then we met Sophie. Sophie is a normal, fun loving girl...or is she...

'The Chrysalids' is great because it doesn't give us all of the information straight away, it is packed with elements of surprise, and we enjoyed looking for, and working out the clues as we went along.

We were all a little disappointed with the ending, as there were still a lot of unanswered questions, and we wish that Wyndham had written a sequel, so that it wasn't such an abrupt conclusion.

If you enjoy science fiction and adventure this is the book for you. Even if you don't there are plenty of plot lines, and situations which pose moral dilemas which made us sad and annoyed and is definately worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review, 16 May 2007
By 
A. J. Cull (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Mass Market Paperback)
The Chrysalids has my vote for best novel by John Wyndham; I loved it as a teenager and still find it an excellent story, as fresh and evocative as ever. Set in the future after an apocalyptic war has ravaged the earth, this is about a group of unusual children, who find themselves dangerously at odds with the fundamentalist community into which they have been born. As well as being a tale of adventure and survival, The Chrysalids is also about difference, and what happens when society draws an arbitrary line between normal and deviant. Watch Thou for the Mutant!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of all time, beautiful, true and pure., 22 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Mass Market Paperback)
Perhaps the best book I have ever read, I read it some 15 or so years ago and it still remains fresh in my mind. You'll read it in one sitting if possible and I hope you derive the same pleasure from it that I did.
Imagine a world that has gone wrong and suffers from the legacy of the mistakes it made in a previous era and then imagine a people that can rise above this imperfection and strive for a world of unity and love. In this book you've got it all, "Beautiful."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world is upside down and it's about to get worse, 11 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
The world is plagued by genetic mutations, people are reduced to primitive, Dark-Age styled living and the past is a blank with strange hints of a nuclear war. Amongst this a small group of humans find out that they possess a power unlike any other, they can read each others' minds. Constant fear and awful watching day and night go along with their power,one day, someone is bound to let something slip. Eventually, they see a way out but they need to find out how to get halfway round the world and people are on to them. A masterpiece of post-apocalyptic style writing, conflicting morals and persecution to the highest degree culminating in an escape attempt that brings an army after them. Brilliant writng exposing the best and worst in human nature
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, intelligent adventure story set in post-apololyptic future, 7 July 2013
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Chrysalids (Paperback)
A timeless classic science fiction novel, like all good books in the genre the story is as much about society and human behaviour as it is about the trappings of a different world/time from now. Its post-apocalyptic setting, some two thousand years from now, and the timeless nature of the central themes of prejudice, bigotry and fear of change, mean that despite having been written over fifty years ago it doesn't feel dated. The story is set in a world where nuclear war has annihilated much of the planet, and surviving communities obsessively protect their 'purity' by eliminating any person, animal or plant that shows a mutation. It's narrated in the first person by a young man who has an 'invisible' mutation - a telepathic power - and the story concerns his efforts to protect himself and his fellow mutants from their suspicious and close-minded society.

The central character, David, is likeable and has a believable 'voice'. His evangelical father is much less well developed and it was a shame not to understand better his motivations. It's quite a short novel, and there would be a lot of scope for expanding the story, but Wyndham has resisted the urge. The result is tightly plotted without feeling hurried, and retains its pace throughout. It's not a particularly emotionally stirring story, despite its often potentially sad subject matter, but it's interesting and quite exciting. It's very easy to read and the author skilfully manages to describe the very different circumstances of the world in a way that avoids pages of dull description - instead he keeps the story plot and dialogue driven throughout, choosing scenes that inform the reader and illustrate the situation, without it seeming forced.

The actual science isn't dwelt on in great detail, which means there isn't really anything here to trip the writer up (I have a scientific background and couldn't spot any obvious flaws anyway). The principal scientific concept here is that radiation can cause genetic mutations, which still holds true. If you like your sci-fi full of detail about the technology and new ideas, this probably isn't the right book as there's little of that. It's really a good old fashioned adventure story, which just happens to be set in a futuristic world. All the components are there - heroes, villains, a desperate escape against the odds, forbidden love, etc. etc. But it's also got more depth than the average thrills-and-spills novel, and it raises some interesting questions about evolution and the way humans fear any 'difference' from themselves. It would be a good choice for a reading group, or to read in school, and I think it would appeal equally to men and women. The themes of bigotry in the name of religion, fear of changing technology, and persecution of minority groups/individuals are all just as relevant today as there were at the time of writing, and sadly will almost certainly continue to be so for many years to come. I can see this book having a great longevity and it is worth a read. Not one of my top favourites, but a good read and gets you thinking too.
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The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (Mass Market Paperback - 28 Jun. 1973)
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