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56 of 58 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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56 of 58 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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6 of 6 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
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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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35 of 37 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 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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6 of 6 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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4 of 4 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
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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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary and compelling glimpse at a post apocalyptic world, 22 Sept. 2010
By 
Schneehase (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Chrysalids (Paperback)
I agree with 'wordy' saying that this is the best of John Wyndham's books - and I've read all the ones I can get my hands on.
It's clear, although never stated, that the 'Tribulation' wrought upon the world wasn't the action of a vengeful god, but the stupidity of man. The glimpses of the after-effects of Tribulation on the world and on the population point strongly towards a nuclear war at some point in the distant past. Large areas of the world are uninhabitable and fused into 'black glass', and there are radiation induced abnormalities in people, plants and animals.
There is enough tension in this scenario already, but the author cleverly builds it up by showing what happens to those people, plants and animals that are considered 'impure' by the authorities in Waknuk.
And then the main character, the son of one of the most severe and ruthless pursuers of abnormalities, discovers that he has an ability that would certainly not be accepted by the society he lives in.
Wyndham was writing a while ago now, but the technology he creates is convincing and fascinating.
The characters are amongst the most engaging that he has created and they are less rooted in the times he was writing from - many of the characters in his other books are very much products of his own era, but with this book he managed to step outside that and really imagine how things might have changed in a very future world.
There is his trade-mark feisty heroine and slightly less confident hero - but that fits very well in this setting.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks nuclear weapons are a good idea, and to anyone that enjoys future-fantasy-sci-fi.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, highly recommended!, 20 July 2010
By 
H. Albert (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Chrysalids (Paperback)
This book is a great example of how John Wyndham manages to make what is essentially science fiction seem very plausible and frightening. Focusing on how it feels to be different and persecuted, references can be drawn both to eugenics and the persecution of the Jews during the Second World War. First published in 1955, it could also been seen as a precursor to the more recent X-men comics, which were first published in 1963, and the later films.

The setting is a post-apocalyptic Labrador, several hundreds of years after a disaster known as `Tribulation', which is never explicitly defined, but is implied to be nuclear in origin.

As a result of Tribulation, genetic mutation has become very common ranging in severity from very bad in the nearest area to the original disaster, known as the Badlands, to relatively low in the area around Waknuk where the main story takes place. It is seen as a blasphemy and is exterminated whenever possible.

The community that the main character David Strorm and his family live in resembles that of rural areas of the American Frontier in the 18th Century, in particular in its fundamentalist Christian aspect.

David is the son of the particularly fanatical Joseph Strorm and begins to realise how dangerous it is to be abnormal or different when his friend Sophie and her parents have to flee the area due to her having six toes.

He realises around the same time that he is able to talk to his cousin Rosalind as well as six other young people in the area telepathically. His uncle Axle finds out, but keeps quiet about it and urges David and Rosalind to do the same.

David becomes more and more concerned particularly after watching his mother turn her sister Harriet away after she begs for her help to hide her third abnormal baby from the authorities and then subsequently commit suicide. In private and with his friends and uncle he begins to seriously question the validity of the preaching and doctrine of the regime.

Comment is made on the hypocrisy of the situation with mutations that are profitable, such as the giant great-horses, being accepted by the authorities but other less useful mutations being outlawed.

It is also somewhat ironic that the doctrine followed by the community is that they must try to stay as close to the `true image' of the `Old People' as possible, but as pointed out by David's uncle, there are no exact definitions of the true image so no one can be sure what is meant by `true'.
David and his friends keep their abilities secret in fear of what will happen if they are discovered, but the strength of David's younger sister Petra's telepathic ability eventually leads to their undoing and eventual discovery by the authorities.

They flee to the Fringes where they meet various Fringes people including David's bitter uncle, the `spider-man', who hates the Waknuk people, and a sad and lonely Sophie, who shelters and helps David, Rosalind, and Petra.

In a seemingly desperate situation, the three are rescued when Petra manages to make contact with a distant group of telepaths living on an island known as Zealand in a seemingly utopian society. They leave to join the `New People' and form part of what is effectively a new species of people.

It is a fine piece of writing by Wyndham and arguably his best work. Written only three years after the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick, the themes of genetic mutation and evolution are still extremely relevant. The ending is slightly clumsy in comparison with the rest of the book, but still fits with the general post-apocalyptic theme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crysalids revisited!, 16 Sept. 2007
By 
Ms. Y. Hartlebury "Yvonne Hartlebury" (Preston, Lancs UK) - See all my reviews
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I read this book as a teenager as part of school English Literature exam course. I loved it then and love it still it remains one of my favourates. The amazing thing is that I can relate to the characters still, and it is as relevent today as ever was even more so. It follows a group of youngsters centred around David, the son of a staunch, ultra religious father and un-empathetic mother in a Post Apocolyptical World. Although never confirmed, we can assume it is set long after a Nuclear War which has set rendered the population either as mutants who have been effected by radiation, and those that "seem" perfect. Perfect in that they have the right amount of toes, fingers and bodily correct.
David and a group of his peers grow up realising that although they are perfect in body they have a gift! Or is it a curse? They can communicate telepathically, and if their elders found out, it would mean banishment and even death. David and the group of young people take flight when they realise Davids young sister Petra has not only the same gift of telepathy but one which is infinately stronger than their own. So to protect her they must go in search of sanctuary far beyond their communities boundaries.
Wyndam as ever not only tells a story with imagination and excellent characters, he hits on issues which are still relevent today, even more so. He captures the essence of the young people struggling to come to terms with their differences and the feeling the elder generation neither cares, nor understands.
Wyndham also deals with how a societies ideals and principals can be taken far too literally and can entrap its people if they refuse to evolve, or lose their humanity and compation and acceptance of differences.
It can be applied to issues of race, religion, political views, sexual orientation, gendre and much more.
I still care about the characters and particularly felt for Sophie, the little girl with extra toes who just wanted a friend and ended up starving and banished to the Fringes.
A truly special book, one which I can read and read again and still find new depth. A lost treasure!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read, 14 Jan. 2005
By 
Michelle Davis (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chrysalids (Paperback)
This was the first adult book I read at the age of nine and though i missed many of plot points i understood enough of the basics to fall in love with it. A year does not pass that i don't re-read it.
The story is set in a post nuclear future where the left over radiation is causing mutations in plant, animals and people. Humanities response to this has been to become ultra orthodox christians. Deviations as the mutations are known are distroyed in a ritualistic fasion when they occour amoungst plant or animals. Human mutants are sterilised and banished to the 'fringes' where they bearly survive.
In the story we follow David Storm, who at the start of the book is a young boy. Unbeknown to to his familey amd the rest of the community he and seven other childern in the comunity are deviations. They are telepathic. We first see how cruel the socity is to those who are diffrent when David meets a young girl called Sophie, she has six toes.
We follow David and the other telepaths as they grow up in a world that is hostile to them. they face many trials as they grow up, one of which comes from within their group.
Without giving away the ending I can say that if you want a book with a perfect happy ending then you probably shouldn't read this. The end shows just how cruel people can be to those who are diffrent.
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The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (Paperback - 7 Aug. 2008)
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