Throwback Thursday – The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

I read this book in grade 10 English. At the time, I hated it. I wasn’t reading any science fiction at that age and I didn’t get the genre. But this should have been my first inkling of things to come. The book stuck with me. When it came time to write our grade twelve departmental exams, this was the book I remembered the most clearly. I wrote an essay on it. I no longer remember what that essay was about – or really what the book is about.
I know it was dystopian fiction before dystopian was the thing it is now. The characters are trying to hide mutations from a society that would reject him. Eventually some of them run away. This is where I was introduced to the literary device of deus ex machina (my computer keeps autocorrecting this to machine. If I meant machine, I wouldn’t have changed it back half a dozen times!). At the time, it seemed cool; now, I’m not so sure. It’s so often used a cop out ending. I remember little except for some machine coming from the sky to save them in the end and something about a toe or a foot or something.
I should probably give this thing a good re-read. Maybe compare it to some modern/older dystopian stories. Does anyone else remember reading this book? Do they still read it in schools? What do my teacher friends think about this book? Should it still be read or has new writing surpassed the lessons learned in The Chrysalids?


4 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday – The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

  1. I hated it because I was told to read it. I’m sure I would enjoy it more if I read it now. I can’t say the same for A Separate Peace or The Wars. I’m fairly certain those would still be met with a modicum of disdain.

  2. I’ve actually never read The Chrysalids, but it is definitely still taught now. I should probably add it to my reading list so I can compare it to some of the more modern dystopian literature I’ve read.

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