Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books

The Chrysalids by John Wydham was originally published in 1955. In the US, it was released as Re-Birth.

The Chrysalids is a post nuclear war sci fi that takes place in Labrador or Newfoundland and, at the end, in New Zealand. It's the story of a backward fundamentalist society with very strict laws concerning the fate of those with mutations. Deviant animals are killed. Human abominations are sterilized and banished to the Fringes.

David Strorm, a ten-year-old boy who communicates telepathically, has a zealot father who follows to a "t" the laws of the rural society. David must keep secret, especially from his father, his mutation and the identities of his friends with telepathy. David's cousin, Rosalind, also shares this gift. And then there is David's little sister, Petra, who has stronger telepathic powers than any of the group. Along his travels, David meets another mutant, Sophie, a girl with six toes. I won't tell you what happens to Sophie, but it isn't pretty.

Some critics consider the ending too contrived (deux ex machina), but I have to admit that when I read The Chrysalids as a ninth grader, I loved the entire book. So much so that I actually re-read it a few times. Last year, I ordered it used from amazon (for one cent which seemed so insulting to a book I so enjoyed) for my eighth grader. I have to be honest; I was a little nervous when we started out reading it together. What if The Chrysalids didn't stand the test of time? Which meant I'd destroy a childhood memory.

BUT, I loved it all over again. And so did he.

Thank you to Patti Abbott who allowed me to join in on Friday's Forgotten Books. Please check Patti's blog for other participants. I'm looking forward to next Friday (July 4) when we'll be posting about forgotten young-adult books.

For other reviews of this book, you can visit Classic Sci Fi Reviews and The Chrysalids Book Review and Wikipedia.

13 comments:

Beck said...

Oh, I read that! It's a dandy book.

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually read this not long ago and enjoyed it immensely. It was one of those classics that somehow slipped from my awareness until someone here on the blog scene brought it up and I quickly ordered it. I'm quite fond of this one.

Stephanie J said...

I've never heard of this book! It sounds really great, tho. I think I'm going to check it out. It almost seems like it has a The Giver feel. Yes? No?

Barrie said...

Stephanie, it absolutely does have a The Giver feel to it. But I never made the connection before. Thanks!

Mary said...

Ooh, this sounds good! I’ll read it. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now this sounds vaguely familiar to me but I can't quite remember reading it. Thanks so much for reminding us.

Jason said...

This sounds cool. I gotta check this out. I've been looking for more books to read.

deboradale said...

You've sold me, Barrie. I'm ordering this as a must-read for Daughter and I. Thanks for suchh a clear and exciting review!

~Debbie

Shelli said...

What a great topic to write about! It sounds like a great book.

debra said...

Barrie--you won last week's Peninsula Python drawing, which means you are the newest member of the Peninsula Python Posse. Email me and I'll send you your prize :-)

Mac and Cheese said...

I remember thoroughly enjoying that book in grade 9 as well. Maybe I will do a re-read.

Off topic, thanks to the power of your suggestion, I am now stuffing my face with ketchup chips. You are evil!!!!!

Barrie said...

mac and cheese: mwa ha ha!

(Actually, I'm jealous. I'd given anything for a pkg of ketchup chips!)

gabe said...

I'm going to look for that book - and what a great idea ...
Happy Canada Eve, Barrie