I hadn’t read any Wyndham before, but everyone seems to talk about him fondly and so I decided that it was time I tried one of his classic science fiction books.
The Day of The Triffids begins with the central character, Bill, waking up in hospital to discover that everyone around him has gone blind. Bill was recovering from an eye operation and so had his eyes covered the previous night when a beautiful green meteor shower appeared in the sky. He had been upset that he’d missed out on the spectacle, but now realises that this is the reason he managed to retain his sight.
Bill heads out into the world and begins the difficult task of trying to survive now that almost everyone is blind. The basic infrastructure has collapsed so even basic things are difficult to achieve. On top of the blindness people also have to deal with large plants that have learnt to walk. These triffids are beginning to hunt people down. I was aware of the killer plants in The Day of the Triffids, but I hadn’t realised that people went blind too. The moment I read this I began to compare the book to Blindness by Jose Saramago (one of my all time favourites), but I think this initially put The Day of the Triffids at a disadvantage. They are very different books and the light, entertaining tone of The Day of the Triffids didn’t have the same impact on me as the darker Saramago novel.
As the book progressed the oppressive nature of the triffids began to creep in. I had initially thought they were quite comical, but I was impressed by the way Wyndham began to make me fear these mythical plants. By the end I was totally convinced by the events of the book: loving the plot, the characters and the many important observations of our society.
This book showed a realistic vision of a society struggling to survive, but all the darker, more gory elements were removed. I can see why it is a classic and why people love reading Wyndham. It is a perfect, cozy disaster story!
Which is your favourite John Wyndham book?
I was tempted to watch the recently released BBC adaptation of the book, but most of the reviews are terrible!
Have you seen it? Is it worth watching?