Thursday, 10 February 2011

John Wyndham - The Day of the Triffids

One night strange lights appear in the sky, everyone that sees them is rendered blind. Bill Masen was in hospital with his eyes bandaged and didn’t see the lights and therefore his eyesight is saved. As well as the problem of most of the population being unable to see there is also the problem of the Triffids. Large carnivorous plants that have been bread for their valuable oils are now able to easily prey on the humans.

I love post-apocalyptic fiction and having never read The Day of the Triffids before I decided it was about time I did. I already had some idea of the plot, as I have watched a couple of T.V. adaptations in the past but I didn’t really remember them very well.

The novel was first published in 1951 and I think it has aged really well, it doesn’t feel dated and there are only a few things that occasionally give away its age. The first is when Bill wakes up in hospital and looks out of the window he is surprised that none of the houses have smoke coming from their chimneys. Secondly when Bill finds a nice apartment in a rich area of London to stay in for the night it is mentioned that the rent would have been expensive at about £2000 a year, whereas nowadays the rent would be more than that for a month! The third thing is that the Second World War is not long passed and there are suspicions implied towards Russia. Aside from those few things there is little to give away that it is 60 years old as it still manages to feel fresh and modern.

I really enjoyed the book, it pulled me in immediately and kept me eager for more throughout. I liked that as well as the difficulties of trying to survive generally there is the added complication of the Triffids making the situation so much more dangerous, even for the people who still have their sight.

I liked the writing style and the characters. I did feel at times that a few things were a little too convenient but that did not spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. It is far better than the adaptations that I have seen (but then the book always is better so no surprise there) so if you like post-apocalyptic fiction then it’s definitely one to add to the reading list, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get to it!

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