The Chrysalids

The Chrysalids

Book - 2000
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Nuclear war has devastated the world, bringing with it a host of genetic mutations. In the bleak, primitive society that has emerged from its ruins, any sign of deviation, no matter how small, is ruthlessly rooted out and destroyed.

Blackwell North Amer
A powerful post-apocalyptic allegory of persecution and intolerance, the Penguin Modern Classics edition of John Wyndham's science fiction masterpiece The Day of the Triffids contains an introduction by M. John Harrison.

Nuclear war has devastated the world, bringing with it a host of genetic mutations. In the bleak, primitive society that has emerged from its ruins, any sign of deviation, no matter how small, is ruthlessly rooted out and destroyed. David lives in fear of discovery, for he is part of a secret group of children who are able to communicate with each other by transferring thought-shapes into each other's minds. As they grow older, they feel increasingly isolated. Then one of them marries a 'norm', with terrifying consequences.

John Wyndham (1903-1969) the son of a barrister, tried a number of careers including farming, law, commercial art and advertising before writing short stories, intended for sale, in 1925. After serving in the Civil Service and the Army during the Second World War, he decided to try writing a modified form of Science Fiction, which he called 'logical fantasy'. Among his most famous books are The Day of the Triffids (1951), The Kraken Wakes (1953), The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957, filmed twice as Village of the Damned), Trouble with Lichen (1960), and Chocky (1968).

If you enjoyed The Chrysalids, you might like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'One of those few authors whose compulsive readability is a compliment to the intelligence'

Publisher: London : Penguin, 2000
Description: xi, 187 p. ; 20 cm
ISBN: 9780141181479
Branch Call Number: PR6045.Y64 C47 2000x


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If you’re looking for a dystopian novel that hits deep, this is it. You live with the novel’s dynamic characters in a world full of terrifying zealots in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster (or so it seems). It all feels a bit too feasible. Yet somehow, amidst the horror, you feel deep love and hope. This quote stuck with me because who hasn’t tried or at least wanted to run away? “In my experience, he told me, if you run away from a thing just because you don’t like it, you don’t know what you find either. Now running to a thing, that’s a different matter, but what would you want to run to?” I really enjoyed it. (submitted by LN)

Jul 28, 2018

The Chrysalids was first published in 1955, almost a decade into the Cold War and 10 years after the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, but it's still relatively early in a long lineage of post-nuclear-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. Although intolerance, mutation and evolution are critical to the plot and setting, this focuses more on character development in the protagonist David. You'll find many parallels in other journey stories like Watership Down and contemporary social commentaries like Lord Of The Flies (1954). The ending is conveniently conclusive but properly developed.

Jan 28, 2018

I read this book the summer after Grade 9 because my summer school teacher assigned it to us. At first I thought it was too challenging, boring, and I wouldn't actually finish it. Turns out, it's very interesting and I love the mindset of the protagonist. We have some real world issues that are similar to the conflicts found in the book.

Dec 06, 2016

The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, takes place in a post-nuclear world. Exposure to nuclear radiation can cause mutations in genes, ultimately resulting in abnormalities. Growing up in an extremist community where abnormalities were considered abominations, David too accepts this notion, or at the very least, does not question it. Anyone, or anything for that matter, that has any sort of deviation from God’s original creation is classed as an abomination. However, as he grows up, he realizes that these beliefs are fundamentally flawed and that he too may harbour some sort of “abomination”. David has two choices: to free himself or to be found out and be killed. Although this book is initially slow and lackluster, things begin to pick up later in the book. Rating: 3/5
- @JuiceboxZ of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

In a cult Christian community, years after a nuclear devastation, the small town of Wanuk follows God's word on exterminating all abominations. David has lived his whole life in fear of his father's tyranny, although he thought he was safe he soon learned that he is a telepath, and frequently communicates with others his age in his village. Soon he and others in his group meet an entire country of telepaths called 'Zealanders'. For something made in the 1950s I am incredibly impressed with the narrative, however at sometimes, it could get confusing.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

“The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham is a post-nuclear apocalypse story about David Strorm and his group of unusual acquaintances. The “unusual” kids are what the society they live in deem to be a “blasphemy against nature” and a “mutant.” The young children are forced to make decisions at young ages that could decide the future of their lives. Do they dare stay at home, where they will be ridiculed or even killed for their differences, or do they flee to the notorious and unknown Badlands?
I recommend this book to lots of teens entering high school. For myself, I decided to read this book because I would have to read it for my Grade 9 english course anyway, and decided to be prepared. I recommend you read this book because not only does it talk about differences within children, but it is also very in touch with religion, and how important and how much of an influence it was in society back then. I found the religion in this book the most interesting because it is interesting to see how other people who have been influenced by religion react to things that their religion considers “wrong.” For example, in one chapter, David gets a cut on his hand, and is trying to bandage it up by himself. After he fails to do so, he has to get help from his mother, and then claims that if he only had an extra arm and hand then he could be able to do it. Everyone in David’s house is shocked, and his father is very very furious. He exclaims things like “how dare you talk that way about the body that God gave you?” and continuously yells about that being a sin and he will be mutant and wrong. This was my favourite part in the book because it really showed what David’s dad really thought, and his emotions and connections with God’s rules. I enjoyed this book all throughout and it would be a great read for anyone interested in this type of book.
- @ReadingMouse of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

NicoleAgar Oct 19, 2015

My favourite book of all time! I read it for grade 9 English class, and still love it to this day!
A young boy begins to challenge the way things are in his perfect world when he comes across a little girl, who even though has 6 toes, really isn't all that different.
I always wished there had been a sequel so I could find out what happens to them....

Jul 30, 2015

I consider this book a very imaginative book. I read it a while ago but I'm adding it here so I can earn a badge. :)

Jun 25, 2015

This book's concept is amazing. The idea of it was like a beacon for me, calling me over to read it. Unfortunately, the delivery of it all was... completely uninteresting. It could have been since it was written half a century ago, but John Wyndham's writing style was, in my opinion, unsatisfactory. He mostly just dragged on, and on just to build up to something so... Anti-climactic! I so badly wanted to enjoy it because again, the idea was fantastic, but actual story just did not hold up.

Jun 02, 2015

Having heard of this book for a long time, I decided to read it, and found it a pleasure.

Nov 28, 2014

This book has a great idea with many lessons to learn, fueling your ‘why-does-the-world-exist’ type thoughts. This post-apocalyptic world keeps David Strorm trapped in Waknuk, a little town where their biggest achievement is perhaps the steam engine, run by poor Corky. After a nuclear war destroying most of our technology, this takes place in the future, oddly enough. Left with only a Bible to start out with, society in Waknuk has struggled to get on the level the ‘Old People’ were at—some now believing that to be a good thing, considering that God sent tribulation among them. With many characters and problems around every corner, things just don’t seem to be happening in David’s favour. Along with falling in love with a family member, being best friends with a ‘mutant’, and living in a society where technology has stopped progressing, David is brought up to believe that ‘mutants’, people who aren’t in the true image of God, must be sent to Badlands. His father has a lot of power in this belief, and yet David is a mutant himself, along with his sister, cousin, best friend, and niece. The mutants are among them, and for David, everything is just happening too fast. Who is this spider-man from the Badlands? What happened to his niece? Will he ever feel completely safe?
The bad thing about this book is that although it’s 200 pages of sheer poetry and has a fabulous plot, it takes a long while to get to a really exciting point, then everything seems to happen at once, only for David and company to continue on with their lives calmly. The ending is quite abrupt, with many dangling threads left to keep you guessing.

Aug 20, 2013

The story becomes uninteresting and a little ridiculous with lines such as "You are a deviation!"

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Library_Liz Dec 08, 2016

“But when people are used to believing a thing is such-and-such a way, and the preachers want them to believe that that’s the way it is; it’s trouble you get, not thanks, for upsetting their ideas.”

Aug 23, 2012

The static, the enemy of change, is the enemy of life, and therefore our implacable enemy.

Aug 23, 2012

We are not shut away into individual cages from which we can reach out only with inadequate words.

Aug 23, 2012

Your minds are confused by your ties and your upbringing.

Aug 21, 2012 can be your own selves. You don't have to live a pretence. You don't have to watch yourself every moment, and think twice whenever you open your mouths.

Aug 21, 2012

Words have to be chosen, and then interpreted; but thought-shapes you feel, inside you...

Aug 18, 2012

"You can't lie when you talk with your thoughts."
"If you run away from a thing just because you don't like it, you don't like what you find either. Now, running TO a thing, that's a different matter."
"When you do go ashore you never know how the local deviations are going to take you"

AmandaVollmershausen Jun 29, 2012

"The essential quality of life is living; the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution: and we are a part of it."

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Jun 25, 2015

Captain_Kitsune_3 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Mar 29, 2011

ReadingintheCorner thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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