Title: The Day of the Triffids
Author: John Wyndham
Page count: 272 pages (Penguin paperback)
My rating: 5/5 stars
Trigger warnings for the book: everything you can expect in your good ol` apocalyptic setting combined with deadly plants. There is some gore!
Spoiler warnings for this review: some things might be considered spoiler-y, enter at own risk.
Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.
But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.
I found this book for ridiculously cheap at a local charity shop that suddenly had a whole range of old penguin classics (the ones with the orange spines). I took about half of them, including two John Wyndham, one Shakespeare, Mark Twain and PG Wodehouse. They cost me about 2 euro in total – talk about a total bargain! One of the John Wyndham books was The Day Of The Triffids, a book I`d heard several people on Booktube talk about. I wasn`t sure if I thought it sounded great or hilariously bad, but I was intrigued and that`s enough for me to buy a book.
This book, as said in the summary, is about survival in a post-apocalyptic world – but with a twist: carnivorous, walking plants with a stinger that can literally kill you. Sound weird? That`s because it is. It`s sort-of explained in the book, though it`s technically an unproven theory.
But that doesn`t change the fact that the premise of this book is weird and definitely joke-worthy (I`ve done my share of jokes about walking plants already, I should really stop). Suffice to say: it takes some getting used to and adapting while reading.
However, the story itself is brilliant. I loved it. I love it more than most modern-day apocalyptic stories. There was something about it that felt more realistic. I think most of this sense of realism was in the way the people responded, and in how some of the events unfolded. I loved that there were different camps of people with different ideas on how to survive a situation like this. I loved how the cities became uninhabitable, and how people outside the cities might not have a clue of what`s going on.
Admittedly, I also thought some things were hilarious and completely unrealistic. So keep that in mind – this isn`t going to be sheer drama and epicness, there is going to be something of a culture shock between the 1950`s and now.
Was there anything at all about this book that annoyed me?
The fact that I have to actually think about this should tell you enough, really. Maybe some of the treatment of women annoys me? But I`m also very aware that this is a book from the 50`s with a different (if EXTREMELY misogynistic) mindset so I`m capable of shutting it out in favour of the story. I`m also aware that there are, even today, people who would consider women to just be baby-makers while The Manly Men have to do everything else.
Another thing that did bother me is that the Triffids from the title had a surprisingly small role in the story. If you`re going to read this, definitely don`t expect to read all about the Dangerous Walking Plants, because they generally play a fairly small (albeit somewhat threatening) role.
But obviously none of this bothered me enough to take anything away from the story. I loved it, and I`m looking forward to the other John Wyndham book I bought (The Kraken Wakes).
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in apocalyptic stories, to anyone who likes timeless stories, and anyone who likes their books with a strange twist like, I don`t know, walking murderous plants.