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3.9 out of 5 stars19
3.9 out of 5 stars
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HALL OF FAMEon 14 January 2002
I first read this as a 10 year old, and have never forgotten it - or any of Christopher's fiction, more of which should be reprinted (especially The Lotus Caves and the Prince in Waiting trilogy). The hero escapes a hideous city, in which the poor are kept as mindless and coarse as possible, and finds his way to the countryside. Here, everything is a dream of upper class delights. Because he is befriended by the son of an aristocratic family, he is adopted, and all seems well. Gradually, however, it becomes clear that his father (murdered in the struggle against the Guardians) was right and that this idyllic life is maintained by lobotomising anyone who dares stand up against it.
This is the darkest and most chilling novel Christopher wrote, but one that makes you think, as all his books do, about what makes a good and just society. It is tremendously exciting, and the friendship between the two boys is vivid and believeable. I think it's as good as famous novels about dystopia, such as 1984, but it's never had the readership it deserves.
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on 5 October 2000
Read this as an adult contemplating reading it with 13 year olds in school. I loved it, they didn't. I found it exciting, believable and possible; they found it too involved. I read it in one go; we gave up on it in school. The language is perhaps a bit formal for today's children, but for adults it's terrific!
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on 21 May 2009
Best known for his Tripods trilogy, John Christopher also penned several stand alone novels - invariably set in dystopian futures and following characters who are determined to find a better life. In this case the central issue is one of class divide, and the poor are treated cruelly while the rich are given freedom and privileges. The protagonist is a teenage boy named Rob, who escapes from a brutal boarding school to which he is sent after the death of his father. Rob leaves the oppressive 'conurbs' and arrives in the country - soon becoming adopted by a wealthy family and enjoying a privileged and relaxing new life. Eventually though, events conspire to present Rob with a desperately difficult choice, and one which will put him straight back in the centre of cataclysmic events...

With definite echoes of The Tripod stories, The Guardians is a simply written but powerful and moving story. The cover illustration of this Windmill edition doesn't really give any idea of the tale contained within, but it is suitable for both teenagers and adults, with a straightforward yet layered plot and identifiable heroes and villains. This is the hardback version designed for schools - a paperback version is available at a cheaper price. If you haven't read them then I heartily recommend you try the Tripods trilogy as well.
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on 20 October 2013
As a previous reviewer noted, this is an abridged version for foreign language students. Innumerable words are defined at the bottom of the page which is distracting but, worse still, whole sections of the text are just given a synopsis. I didn't find out about the latter until I abruptly found the story being summarised. The Amazon description is disgracefully deficient. I am having to buy another unabridged copy.
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on 21 November 2011
I re-acquainted myself with The Guardians recently after about twenty years, and I'm really glad I did. It's a little jewel of a book and really should be back in print. I supect the reason it's not is that, due to being written in the 70s, its vision of the future (and futuristic words like plastiglass, holovision, lumoglobes) seem very dated, and would be seen as unlikely to strike a chord with people today, particularly youngsters, at whom the book is chiefly aimed. But the book's themes - mental conditioning, human freedom, and most of all the division between the rich and poor, the factory workers and factory owners - are more pertinent than ever. It's a short, plot-driven book, and the prose is spare, but nevertheless the world it creates is convincing in its detail, as are the characters. Running through it all is a rather troubling question - if people are conditioned to be happy, but are nevertheless happy, is that really such a bad thing?
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on 14 January 2002
The Guardians, by John Christopher...
The book is set in England, with a few extreme differences and some more subtle changes to the world we know. The country is divided into two main parts- the County, and the Conurb. The Conurb is a city-like scene: bustling and loud, lots of people and buildings. One of the first things that is noticed as a considerable change is the fact that there are hardly any libraries. Instead of newish books, they are all 40 years old or more. There are a lot of changes like this in the book, and some are very interesting.
The County is a completely different picture all together. The gentry live there, surrounded by nice things and tradition. They have servants who are content, but what is underneath this neat and tidy exterior? The County is like a time warp set just before World War1. Apart from the odd modern thing, they live just as people did pre-war.
The book has a main character, Mike. After mike's father dies, he is sent to a state boarding school('living hell'). He hates it so much, he decides to run away. He knows an extremely small amount about the place where he is going- the County. All that he is sure about is this... there is a fence seperating the end of the conurb(no-mans land) and the county. Mike has a series of adventures and close calls before he gets to the fence, but once he is there, not all the danger is gone. Mike travels across fields until he is spotted. The adventures experienced before will be nothing compared to what he will put up with in the rest of the story...
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on 7 September 2015
If I am remembering correctly and the version has stayed the same this is a story that is particuarly apt and relevant for the young people of today. In fact it is as though a Deja Vu has taken place and the world in much of Britain has been modelled on the story in this book. I hope no-one has done that purely out of spite or on purpose.

What I remember of it is there are loads of housing estates building up in cities and simple questions - such as where the food and water etc come from cannot be fathomed. The children try to investigate and find some kind of fenced-off perimeter area. There is also some problems finding just normal countryside space to be in - if I remember correctly. The strange thing is - I remembered this story a few years back from years ago - but the blurb on it then gave the impression that the book was different from what I - as I say I am hoping it is the same as I read it with avid attention when I was young and it was recommended to me by my teacher at school - so I hope it doesn't frighten you too much - with it being much more real now than it was back in the days when I was reading it - and I hope you can get together with your friends to try and put pressure on people to change things for the better if we can.

I once had a boyfriend who was very worried and alerted me that he was anxious that 'THEY' were going to 'Call time on leisure activities as well'. He kind of described a bit what he meant by it - but I urge you to be a bit circumspect about some of the leisure activities offered - and think about what the best way forward may be for you, your friends, and hopefully your famillies in the future.
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on 7 January 2012
This is a decent book, but what I think isn't clear at all about this listing, is that this is an edited and abridged version for German students of English. There are several chunks that have been removed from the book (with notes to describe the missing plot), translations of "difficult" words at the bottom of the pages, and line numbers down the sides of every page. This wasn't a major issue, but it did affect my enjoyment of the book. The removed sections made the book much shorter than I was expecting, and the translations and line numbers were a bit distracting.

Compared to other John Christopher books, I found this to be a bit superficial and lacking in much character depth. Whether that is due to the editing or not, I don't know, as I haven't read the full text.
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on 30 June 2013
Like a lot of others, read this for English Lit exams, and loved it. Why isn't it available on Kindle!? Why doesn't John Christopher get more kudos than he does?
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on 15 October 2009
An excellent political allegory.
I enjoyed this very much: a strong narrative, and extremely believable near-future dystopia.
Recommended to all.
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