The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Science fiction is not my favorite genre but this classic had me rethinking my mild aversion. Find out why…
The Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham
First Published in: 1951
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by: Jen
Find it/Buy it here: The Day of the Triffids
The Day of the Triffids is perhaps the best known, and most critically-acclaimed novel by science fiction author John Wyndham. Published in 1951, it tells the story of the end of the world as we know it. Humans are left blind after a mysterious comet lights up the world’s skies with eery bright green flashes ― allowing the mysterious Triffids free reign. The only individuals saved from blindness were those who, for one reason or another, did not witness the meteor shower. Biologist Bill Masen and author Josella Playton are two of them, finding each other and starting out on an adventure to survive and build a new world.
As I mentioned above, science fiction isn’t really my favorite genre and I had no real desire to read this book. My bias wasn’t helped any by having seen the horrendously cheesy 1960s film clips for the movie based on this book. Here’s the trailer:
But I read this book in large part because I was assigned it for a reading challenge. Much to my surprise, I LOVED it. Not only was it hugely entertaining, but it was well-written and raises interesting questions about loneliness, survival, and human morality. Thankfully, the novel isn’t about giant man-eating plants. The Triffids are much more interesting in the novel than they are in the movie version and they don’t simply go around chomping humans in venus-trap mouths.
Considerably less violent than Saramago’s Blindness (with a similar premise), Wyndham’s novel shows a slightly more optimistic account of humanity although he does present the range of possible human responses. I liked how this novel leaves unanswered questions (what are the Triffids? What was humanity’s role in the decline of civilization? What will the future hold?). But more than anything, I just enjoyed it as a very entertaining and fast-paced post-apocalyptical novel.
The book has been adapted into that awful 1962 version and two BBC series which are both supposedly much better.
So why should you read this book if you haven’t already? The Day of the Triffids is considered by many to be one of the best science fiction books of all time. It’s on Boxell’s list of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die among several other “best of” lists. In addition, it is considered to be one of the first, if not the first, example of post-apocalyptic genre. Boxell’s book claims it was the “first of its time to anticipate disaster on a global scale” and that Wyndham “predicts the technologies of biowarfare and mass destruction, offering a sophisticated account of Cold War paranoia that was well before its time in terms of its exploration of the psyche of individuals in the face of social change.” If those arguments don’t convince you, it’s just an all-around entertaining book that is deeper and better written than any of myriad of post-apocalyptical YA novels on the market today.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Have you read any others by John Wyndham? Which were your favorites?