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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2002
John Christopher has written several novels of global catastrophe,of which this is certainly the best.
The basic premise is that of extreme earthquakes on a worldwide scale, which reduce towns and cities to piles of rubble and plunge the survivors straight back into the Stone Age. Much of western Europe is drastically uplifted, transforming the English Channel into a muddy desert overnight - whist elsewhere, lands are thrown down and drowned under inrushing seas.
The cataclysm and its aftermath are seen from the viewpoint of Matthew Cotter, a Gurnsey horticulturalist who finds himself one of a handful left alive on the former island. The future they face, attempting to begin life again with what they can scavenge amid the devastation, seems hard and uncertain enough.
Matthew then treks across the empty seabed to England, in the faint hope that his student daughter has also survived. He finds the situation far worse in a wider land, with many competing bands of scavengers. Pillage, rape and murder are now the norm as mankind revets to utter barbarism.
The actual scientific likelihood of such immense convulsions in the Earth is very doubtful, and the author's explanation - as a new mountain-building episode - is certainly nonsense, since such events take tens of millions of years. The sheer dramatic impact of a global earthquake, however, makes this book greatly entertaining for all but the most pedantic.
Its central emphasis is on the reactions of people, totally unprepared, who see their world turned (almost literally) upside down and everyone they knew destroyed. While some find natural strength and determination, even leadership, others respond with violence, with apathy and despair, or retreat into lunacy. John Christopher displays a subtle and far-ranging mastery of characterisation. He has created a stark and very believable vision of human struggles to survive in a world made suddenly strange, lawless, primitive and hostile.
It might have been even better to see Matthew Cotter and others ten or twenty years on, after the barbaric majority had mostly starved or slain each other and nature had begun to reclaim the shattered country. Would naval vessels have survived in mid-ocean and acted as nuclei for new communities? Or would the fallout from wrecked nuclear power stations have caused widespread cancers, sterility, mutations - and ultimately lethal new diseases, which would finish off the human race?
This is, surely, the essence of "thought-provoking" literature.
Regardless of unanswered questions, I would rate "A Wrinkle in the Skin" as being among the finest pieces of speculative fiction I have read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 February 2013
I must admit to feeling a slight jolt when opening up this book, I read the first page. It starts with events around the world being presaged by large earthquakes in Christchurch in New Zealand, with other quake events following around the world. As the second anniversary of the large earthquake events in Christchurch have just been recognised, and I live in Auckland in New Zealand, where the Christchurch earthquakes have remained a current topic since they first began in 2011, the rather awful paragraph of that first page of the book really caught me off guard.

The book was published first in 1965, and it seems that the action is pinpointed around this time. Matthew Cotter, living a quiet life on Guernsey, finds his life turned upside down when what appears to be a series of devastating earthquakes strike. Worried about his daughter in the UK, and finding himself part of what seems to be just a small group of survivors, Matthew attempts to find a new balance in his life.

This, while following a fairly natural post-apocalyptic scenario (finding food, shelter, meeting good and bad people, worrying about the future of the human race) is different from many in that the action is set in a fairly small geographical area. What we have at the beginning is not the devastation of a large city, with its inherent problems of gangs, looting etc., but a small group of people in a largely agricultural region, who have, up to now, lived an existence cut off from the mainland by the sea. But the earthquakes have changed everything; and without communication, how will they even know how widespread the earthquakes or destruction may have been?

This is a wonderfully crafted thriller on a psychological as well as a natural level. The story races along, and the reader is taken along with the frenetic pace of it. It's a great story, and a great read - totally recommended. I'm off to find more of John Christopher's books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2011
I owned a bookshop in Guernsey and have a large library and I was so pleased to find what must be the only science fiction book based mainly in Guernsey. I also loved John Wyndham's books and to find one written in the same style was even better. This "post/apocalyptic" book was original in concept and it is very clear that John Christopher knew the topography of Guernsey, the surrounding islands and English Channel as the book is well detailed. Broadly, after huge earthquakes devastate the area (possibly Europe or further) like Day of the Triffids very few people are left and the search is on to find other survivors, especially the protagonists daughter in the UK. There is only one way to do this- walk the English Channel.

Living in Guernsey I am obviously biased but I do believe this is an excellent book in the style of John Wyndham. I also liked the Prince in Waiting series of 3 books, another post apocaliptic story set in southern England.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2012
I nearly, nearly, nearly stopped reading it after the first five or six pages because I completely misjudged where it was headed, and even checked the copyright small print info to make sure the correct book was bound within the cover. But (I'm glad) I stuck with it and it soon picked up after The Event.

Perhaps the book borders on allegorical in parts, but every now and then there's a visceral jolt to stop it getting too black and white.

Would definitely recommend and will be getting another JC novel following my enjoyment of this one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 January 2010
I think that John Christopher is a forgotten gem of an author and never got the credit in the 'post apocalypse' genre I think he deserves
In this story a series of earthquakes devastate the world and the story is about one man and his efforts to survive and find his daughter
The story starts on Gurnsey and after a fairly slow start he sets off for the UK mainland across the sea bed that has been revealed as the sea was drained away by the changes set off by the earthquake
There is the usual cast of 'bad people' who treat this as an opportunity to behave very badly, a group of respectable people who are just trying to survive and the realisation that life will never be the same is well done as it dawns on them just what this means - and no help will be arriving
The way people might deal with this type of event is really well done, particularly the ships captain who has power and food and watches films at night , heckling the screen as it runs
The best part for me and where you get the scale of the events is where he gets to the top of hill near Brighton and the land has gone completely and it covered by sea - effectively ending his chance to find his daughter and then forcing him to deal with the whole situation
The realisation that a young lad now depends on him is brutally driven home and there is a nice twist in the tale as well
A very good story - well up to a usual high standard
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2007
If you like stories where characters hold your interest because there is a clear narrative thread in operation then this if for you. Ignore any lazy comparisons with Wyndham as this is clearly superior to much of that (I loved Day of the Triffids but lets be fair the plot is nonsense!). This forms part of a themed trilogy of mankinds reaction to disaster (along with The World in Winter and Death of Grass) - it's clear that the author believes that instinct will drive us to barbarism but is optimistic that people will adapt and still retain their humanity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2011
Other reviews have gone into what the storyline is. All I have to say is that it is another John Christopher gem. I could not put it down, the whole book is perfect as far as I am concerened. All we need now is a sequel and a decent film or TV series (British made please :) )
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is a good read. It's an enjoyable rather than thought-provoking vision of a post-apocalyptic world. Unlike 'Death of Grass' the rationale for the disaster is a highly unlikely scenario that (I can only assume) is a response to the emergence of tectonics in the 1960s. Consequently, it lacks the prescient quality of the other novel by John Christopher which also packs much more of an emotional 'punch'. That said, these limitations in no way detract from the author's story-telling ability. There is an interesting parallel between the travels of a man and a boy in this novel and those of the father and son in Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' (although the latter is much darker in tone).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
I have read a few of these books by John Christopher and others from this period and find them really good reads and quite insightful of todays problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2015
I loved "the death of grass", and didn't think I'd find a disaster book to rival it. This did! Why oh why did I wait so long to read it?
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