The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham: A Review

The Day of the TriffidsThe Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is one of the great examples of future fiction. Written in the first person, we follow the hero as he wakes to find a world gone mad. An expert worker on a triffid farm, he suffered damage to his face that threatened his sight. In an ironic twist, he is cured, but he discovers that the vast majority of the population has been rendered blind by a peculiar meteor shower.

Society is collapsing rapidly, as the few fortunates who have retained their sight are faced with a choice: try to help the blind or abandon them. Even those who seem to want to help the blind prove to be malign, as the hero spends a period as captive, tethered to a blind man, and forced to help his group of afflicted people scavenge for essential supplies. Following the hero, we meet people who are broken and lost, desperate ones who can’t understand how their world has crumbled, and those who go on a wild adventure of satisfying all their desires. But there is a greater menace still: the triffids. These giant carnivorous plants are capable of movement and demonstrate a frightening intelligence as they break free from their captivity on the farms. They hunt for food, and the most abundant source of that is the human population. In groups or singly, they stalk their prey, or lie in wait, ready to strike.

Escaping his captivity, the hero becomes part of a small group of survivors. Fleeing London, they establish a refuge in the country. But the triffids are spreading quickly and soon the small band are under siege.

Even with the hero’s expertise with triffids, can the group survive?

Mr Wyndham tells his tale with great expertise. I have no great liking for first person narratives, but he succeeds in engaging the reader very quickly. It isn’t long before you find yourself needing to know what will happen next. We are shown how pathetic we can become when Society falls apart, leaving us with a se3nse of isolation. We see the worst and the best in the people the hero encounters. From the generous to the selfish, it’s all there. And throughout it all the eerie triffids march. Monsters capable of pushing humanity into extinction. Terrifying, they are a warning too. As far as the triffids are concerned, the message is surely : just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should.

Five stars seems an inadequate measure of the book. If I could, I would give the book, and Mr Wyndham, six stars.

I can highly recommend this book, even for those who have an aversion to ‘science fiction’.

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

8 thoughts on “The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham: A Review

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this review. I used to enjoy Wyndham a lot, even though I have only read his best known books, and it’s good to have a reminder of things worth re-reading. Definitely seek out “The Midwich Cukoos” (basis for the film “Village of the Damned”) and “The Chrysalids”. I’m going to see if I can find some of his other works.

    • I’m pleased that I was able to reawaken your love of Wyndham’s books, Lise 🙂 He was just such a great writer. I’ve got both the books you recommend but somehow got distracted and failed to read them 😦 I’m going to have to fit them in somewhere 😉

  2. One of my fav memories of living on Lake Malawi, was on Sunday our workers would leave early, then we would try and roast something we caught, and sit in our little bar overlooking the lake…and using my old roberts radio…listen to the world service sunday drama….we usually got interrupted by some bleeding thing or even people looking to stay, who would then eat our dinner….but the one day, it all came together….This was the play that we listened to! 🙂

    Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2013 10:11:53 +0000 To: nicc63@hotmail.com

    • Thanks for sharing your memory, Nicholas. I used to love listening to radio plays on BBC Radio 4, which were often on during a Saturday afternoon. It still conjures up those days, when my Dad had gone fishing so we didn’t have sport on TV to worry about. Then my Mum and I would listen to the play, with mum frequently busy ironing at the same time. I can still smell that warmed cloth aroma when I think of those times 🙂

  3. Oooh, I remember reading that. I must have been in my teens, and spent days trying to work out how I would survive the same predicament. Fiction always felt more real then…

      • I do to, but like ellemeddler I don’t think that it’s as deep an involvement as I had when I was younger.

      • Probably not, unless we’re ‘in extremis’. I mean, I suffer depression and bad health – if either is really bad, then I become just as totally absorbed as I did back then. I guess it’s a measure of our desire to ‘escape’ 😉

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