This classic 1955 thriller of the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired the acclaimed 1956 film, directed by Don Siegel and named one of Time magazine's 100 Best Films. Blackstone's edition is read by Don Siegel's son, actor-director Kristoffer Tabori, an Emmy and Audie Award winner, and concludes with the narrator's insider reminiscences of his father's work on the film.
©1955, 1983 Jack Finney; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
Another one of those classic novels that inspired multiple cult-classic films, but have rarely been read by the people who saw the movie(s).
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic "B" movie, and this book is a classic "B" novel. I was not blown away by it, but it's a decent page-turner. Also, it gets extra credit for creating many of the tropes that are now old hat in sci-fi.
Set in Mill Valley, California, the protagonist is a psychologist, recently divorced, who sees several patients in succession who report to him a conviction that their husband, sister, or English teacher isn't really who they're supposed to be. The "patients" can't explain how they know - the supposed dopplegangers are exactly like the originals in every respect. They have all the original's mannerisms, they remember things only the real person could know, they have all the correct scars and other distinguishing marks. There is just something missing.
Dr. Bennell, being a pragmatic and compassionate sort, initially assumes his patients are deluded in some fashion. He takes great pains to explain to the first woman to come to him that she's not crazy, and patiently goes over other explanations. Then when more patients start reporting the same thing, he begins to believe it's a case of mass hysteria.
Then he finds a body lying on a shelf, hidden in an unused cupboard. A "blank" body, missing distinguishing features and fingerprints, yet still warm.
Gradually, he and his new sweetheart, an old flame who is thrust together with him by circumstances, realize that something is very wrong in Mill Valley. They enlist others who have also realized the same thing, and skeptics like another psychotherapist.
The aliens are really less interesting than the psychological tension created by the story, first as the reader, like the protagonist, is forced to wonder whether there really is an alien invasion going on or if people are simply losing their minds, and then, as it becomes evident that people really are being replaced by aliens, by the question of who's really an alien and who can be trusted. One by one, they'll get you... or your friends... or your family...
Invasion of the Body Snatchers has later been interpreted as a metaphor for the spread of communism, or the paranoia of McCarthyism, or whatever else people wanted to project onto it. In the afterword for the audio edition, the narrator, who is the son of the producer of the original movie, says that his father never had any such ideas in mind. He was just trying to make a good movie on a very limited budget.
I doubt Jack Finney, the author of the novel, intended any highbrow interpretations either. At its heart, this book is just a straightforward invasion story. As a work of science fiction, it's a bit weak - the premise of alien seeds being carried to Earth by stellar winds is fine, but the book stretched my suspension of disbelief after that, as the biology of the invaders made no kind of sense, nor did the ending. (The ending of the book is significantly different from the movie versions.)
The book is popcorn entertainment, but as a modern classic based on an idea that definitely has a creepy quality all by itself, it's worth reading.
Predictable, bland, long-in-the-tooth 70s-era soap opera style sci-fi horror, at times reaching appreciable artistic content ala Twilight Zone.
On the Twilight Zone you might watch two guys having small-talk in a small town cafe, and one's an alien, but hasn't revealed it yet. Suspense is built with bland small talk between 2 average guys, which keeps going and going until: BAM -- one guy pulls off his cap and reveals a 3rd eyeball on his forehead!
This novel is like that, but stretched-out 7 million times longer like a long roll of TP and without the shock effect of a third eyeball. Well, maybe once there was a semi-shocking thing. A moment in a basement with a body, but it seemed to add more for atmosphere than anything else.
Does it even matter
Address the following warnings:
WARNING: Women in this story are emotional jellyfish props with limited behaviors:
2.) Making facial expressions
3.) Passing out
5.) Being afraid
6.) Being happy and colorful only when they have an apron on and are cooking
7.) Special powers: ability to look into people's eyes and intuit something is wrong.
WARNING: The only Black man to appear in this book so far is a shoe-shiner, portrayed by the author rather unflatteringly.
The narrator (probably a senior citizen) with a thick New England accent, plays a 28-year old California doctor. His presence and dialogue is that of a cheeseball small-town conservative and it's done so well, the whole book could made into a humorous cult film. The narration shows top-notch professional older talent miscasted into a young man's role, in the tacky and insulting tradition of many 1970s soap-opera style radio dramas. *HE* did well.
This is a hard question to answer.
I've purposefully hacked through this jungle of unexciting, culturally biased, conservative blather to chapter 15 / 22 and not a whole heck of a lot has happened yet. I guess I'll just have to put on my big-boy pants and man-up so I can finish the last 7 chapters.
FOOTNOTE: Just endured a 30 minute chapter dedicated to describing every person on a street, their made-up names, their occupations, their relatives, what towns the relatives live in, knowing that all of these details are completely irrelevant because that's just the way the book is written.
So bad it's good. Almost.
In the hands of the right people, someone could make movie of this, and it would suck and win an award at sucking.
Lover of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, and westerns in all media, including old-time radio dramatizations.
This story has the gender norms you would expect from its era, but I don't find that to be necessarily a bad thing. If you do, then be forewarned. The original movie, didn't exactly follow the book in every detail, but it's pretty close. If you enjoy one, you will like the other. Well read by Kristoffer Tabori.
On a one to five scale:
Violence: 1 for mild physical altercations, etc.
Gore factor: 1 for mildly descriptive horror scenes, pods turning into people, etc.
Language: 0, suitable for all ages in this respect
Sexuality: 1 for vague references to mature relationships. Again, suitable for any but the smallest children in this regard.
Difficulty level: 2, an easy read.
Loved this one! What self-respecting child of the 70's doesn't love IBS! This audio version was just as gripping and scary thanks to Mr. Tabori! Wonderful job!
I like to read and listen to Science, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Military, History, and Thillers.
Yes and no. I can't read as much as I like and resort to listening to books but either is doable.
This is a great classic and worth the money. The characters are fun and the villain is unique and interesting.
By now most people have watched one of the films. Both films are somewhat updated from the book. The book is gloriously old fashioned. It is perhaps more interesting as a window on the time than as a science fiction story. The sexism, smoking and drinking are so out of place now. By modern standards the characters are guileless, or clueless. It is necessary for the characters to do things we would now consider stupid.
The art of storytelling has advanced since this was written, a modern editor would shred parts of this narrative, but in some ways that adds to the charm.
As a resident of the area and an engineer I could pick holes in this. But for its time it was very good and even now it is like looking at an old car, it was one of the better efforts of its time. Even when it was set it relied on an ignorance of Bay Area geography that was probably accurate for most readers, and we didn't have Google maps to check what we were being told. As an example, and the only one I will give, if you drive south on 101 from Mill Valley for an hour, you will have passed over Golden Gate Bridge and through the Presidio, which was an army base at that time.
I started the book with no expectations and I was pleased with the book. I didn't want to stop listening. The world have changed a lot since the book was penned and it is interesting to reflect on how it helps the story. The narrator is excellent and really enhanced my enjoyment of the book.
Storky46--Avid reader/listener. Love my old Kindle so much, I cannot bring myself to buy a new Fire.
The narrator made this book suspenseful. I felt the urgency to run and hide. It was hard to leave my car each day when I arrived at my destination. I wanted to keep listening!
I have seen both versions of this book as film. As always the book version rules! Love the retro feel of this 1950s era novel. The characterizations were great. The narrator did a good job. Like any really mesmerizing novel I couldn't put it down!
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