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Publisher's Summary

The Chrysalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, always on the alert for any deviation from the norm of God's creation.

Abnormal plants are publicly burned, with much singing of hymns. Abnormal humans (who are not really human) are also condemned to destruction - unless they succeed in fleeing to the Fringes, that Wild Country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work.

David grows up ringed by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT.At first he does not question. Then, however, he realizes that he, too, is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce him to a new, hitherto unimagined world of freedom.

The Chrysalids is a perfectly conceived and constructed work from the classic era of science fiction, a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when religious and scientific dogmatism are both on the march, as when it was written during the cold war.

©2008 John Wyndham (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Top notch post-apocalyptic tale!

(No spoilers.) This is a post-apocalyptic story which I enjoyed immensely even though it seems to have been aimed at a young adult audience (and I’m not young).

I read John Wyndham’s “Day of the Triffids” before “Chrysalids”. I really enjoy this author’s writing style and, while both stories were excellent, I enjoyed Chrysalids a bit more. It’s has less horror and more adventure. Both are, btw, excellently narrated.

I liked this story so much that as soon as I finished it, I convinced my oldest son to listen to it and I then enjoyed it a second time with him.

I highly, highly recommend this book and its author.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

"Life is change"

I'm a John Wyndham fan but this isn't really like his other post-apocalyptic novels. I know some people have written that this is a story about the importance of accepting differences, but I have to disagree......I think this is a book about the problems of trying to recreate the past, of banishing changes in the belief that the past (or present) is best, and of refusing to move forward. As Uncle Axel says to the young protagonist David, "Life is change". Those who don't accept change will be left behind.

The apocalyptic event is not named, but is pretty clearly nuclear bombs and the resulting radiation. In the recovery, there are small groups of people building small civilizations around the world in isolation from the others and who, not surprisingly, think their way is the only and best way to be. David's community in Labrador (he lives on the estate of Waknuk) is intolerant of anything deemed to be a variation of a severely limited definition of normal - burning crops that grow poorly or too well, killing animals born with abnormalities in form or function, and banishing any people found to be "imperfect" to the Fringes. (Interestingly, women are sterilized before being sent to the Fringes, but men are not.) Uncle Axel was the only one who seemed to realize that if you try to emulate the past, you'll wind up with the same problems that plagued the past (in this case, an apocalypse), but he kept his views to only himself and David, whose secret he kept.

David begins to lose his faith in the morality of the strict adherence to "normal" when he discovers a young playmate has 6 toes. He was already telepathic, communicating with other children in the town who were also telepaths, but he begins to realize the dangerous situation they were in - that banishment could happen to anyone found to be different at any time, not just newborns. When the first telepath found was tortured in an attempt to get her to name the others, the remaining group fled, ending up in the Fringes. They discover that while the Fringes people aren't the scary mutants they were led to believe (they might have Marfan's Syndrome, or 6 toes, for instance), they are equally as prejudiced against outsiders as Waknuk.

Eventually the telepathic teens are rescued by people from New Zealand who heard their plight (as telepathy is very common there), though the rescuers are not full of perfect enlightenment either.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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THE NORM

YOU CAN'T LIE WHEN YOU TALK WITH YOUR THOUGHTS
I loved the first three hours of this. I loved it, because it intelligently hit one of my pet peeves. I have never understood the hatred toward people who are different. Just today a customer I was delivering to, made a disgusting remark about blacks and it came out of nowhere. As a kid I witnessed fat kids, tall girls, short boys, blacks, girls with freckles, kids who wore metal braces on their legs, people with cleft lips, pimples, etc,... get picked on. In junior high one boy with a very small penis and whose testicles had not dropped was humiliated consistently. Michael Landon was humiliated by his mother for bed wetting. How about the kid in Lord of the Flies with asthma. In our town there is suppose to be a farm with albinos living on it. Teenagers go out there at night to taunt them.

LEFT HANDED
Some might get upset by how religion is represented in this book. They are the bad guys. I have a friend who went to a catholic church and the nuns tied his left hand to his chair so he could not use it, as he was left handed. When I was young I went to a church, where the preacher from behind the pulpit told us that Cain was marked by becoming a Negro. Before the civil war, the Quakers were trying to free the slaves, but the Baptist were preaching that it was okay per the bible for white men to own black men. Last year a preacher of a mega Assembly of God church, stood behind the pulpit and told his congregation to vote against the rights for gays bill. He almost got into to big trouble for that, but managed his million dollar A SS out of it. Religion can be good, but when used for hate, it is devastating.

The Rest of The Story
The last three and a half hours is one long chase scene. It is almost like the first and second half were written by two different people. The first half by a very talented writer and the second half was a hack job. The ending is such a disappointment. As another reviewer has mentioned we are preached at, about being accepting of those who are different but, in the end those who have telepathy discriminate against everyone else. To not have telepathy makes you inferior and you don't deserve to live. End of story.

30 of 39 people found this review helpful

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dystopian future

I love the idea of religion continuing in a future where no one has a true grasp (like to today) on what a religion was trying to convey. Also how things are open for interpretation and to be changed to fit views that are predetermined. overall an interesting take on a dystopian future.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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My Favorite Wyndham Story

I read this as a teenager and just loved it. This book resonates with me in so many ways. It was published the year I was born, 1955. It is a post nuclear apocalypse parable, and I grew up protesting nuclear weapons. The utopia land is New Zealand, my homeland, and it inspired the song, Crown of Creation by Jefferson Airplane, which I figured out all by myself long ago.

I'd forgotten how well crafted this story was. Now as novelist myself, I can appreciate the masterful pacing and plot development.

The narrator has a very irritating voice inflection which severely marred the audio rendition for me, constantly pulling me out of the fictive dream. A very poor choice of narrator and a real pity, when the book is such a classic.

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Coming of age story set in post apocalyptic future

A dystopian future coming of age story set several hundred years after a world cataclysm. Another fascinating sci-fi tale from the pen of John Wyndham. well worth a read!

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Thoughtful

This book is a thoughtful view on a post apocalyptic world. 1000 years later and complete destruction, we’re still human and cruel. When reading keep in mind this was written in the early 1950’s. I enjoyed it!

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The Chrysalids

I had to read this book for senior English and was thinking it was going to be some dumb book. (As I usually don’t like books at all) and by the first chapter I was getting drawn deeper and deeper in, fantastic book definitely would recommend!

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Awesome story

Enjoyed every second of it. The underlying message is pretty powerful. Will definitely give you something to think about.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

The story had lots of feeling and nuances. And the narrator was the best that I have heard in a long time!!

2 of 4 people found this review helpful