I found this quite a disturbing and uncomfortable tale yet also a clever and eye-opening one, and one that encourages the reader to contemplate how we live our lives today and how we treat others around us.

It is about a post-nuclear world where the inhabitants are intent on preserving the ‘pure’ form as dictated by religion, and any slight deviation from that pure form is viewed as bad and threatening and must be destroyed or cast out, whether it be human, animal, or plant. The book follows the story of David Strorm, whose father is fiercely determined to preserve and enforce the pure form, often denouncing people he discovers to have less than pure crops or animals, and yet David himself has an impure quality that would horrify his father, in that he can read other people’s thoughts. When this impurity is discovered, David and his fellow ‘mutants’ must run away to the dangerous and damaged world beyond their village in order to avoid torture and death by their own people.

I thought the book was quite scary to read as I could imagine us easily being like this intolerant race of people if a leader was determined enough, and it reminded me of Hitler’s reign and his view of Germans and Jews. It was also disturbing to contemplate how the people’s fear of any difference led them so calmly to be extraordinarily ruthless, even to sterilising ‘mutant’ people and torturing and killing them. The way the people also used the bible in order to instruct them how to act and how to be and were able to justify their actions by saying the bible stated it must be so, was, again, disturbing in its closeness to real events in our history.

The book was well written, and the author’s message clear (as I perceived it) that we should accept everyone even if they are different to us and be aware of the fact that what some people view as a difference could actually be a valuable and useful trait. But I did find the theme of the book a bit too close to home and some people’s present day views, and this was encouraged even more, I feel, by the use of countries’ names that are the same as our present day names, Labrador and Sealand (I presume Labrador on the coast of Canada, and New Zealand). The book was also very disturbingly relevant to us today as we have the power to bring about such a devastating event and to create such a damaged world with our nuclear bombs (even though the author does not state a nuclear explosion has occurred, this seems to fit the description he gives).

I found this book sobering and disturbing and thought provoking and powerful.

The Chrysalids (Paperback)

By (author): John Wyndham

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