‘When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere’
I’m not one for normally remembering quotes but this one has stuck in my head.
Used in the opening sentences it perfectly sets up the tone for the rest of the book; an eerie misplaced and hauntingly plausible and uncanny dystopian epic.
Set in an undetermined date, man has begun to dabble with genetic modifications. The result, 10 foot high plants with extendable stingers capable of instantly killing a man with one blow.
These vegetative beasts can uproot and mobilise themselves before sinking back in their roots.
Thankfully man has rendered them harmless by regularly trimming their stingers, and most are contained within controlled research labs.
For one man (Bill Masen) fate intervenes in, when as researcher on these plants a worker gets some of their venom in his eyes and is rendered incapacitated and blind under heavy bandaging for weeks.
One morning, waking in the hospital ( on the day of his un-bandaging) Bill is overcome with the feeling that all is not as it should be. He lies still in his hospital bed trying to swallow the growing fear of uncertainty and unease within him. What ensues is his firsthand account of the unfolding of what emerges to be a worldwide disaster.
Unkempt and without humans to maintain the order of the Triffids their species now holds the advantage over the blind fumbling survivors around them. They are quick off the mark and soon beginning to feed off of the rotting corpses littering the streets.
In this novel you truly find out if ‘The one-eyed man will be King in the country of the blind’. Or if all humanity is destined to fall against the background of an increasingly wild landscape and social chaos.
Wyndham perfectly delves into the human psyche. Discussing the rationalities of fear and morality that the survivors have to adjust to within their new world.
The key success of this story for me was that it was always one step ahead.
Often I have felt disappointed by apocalyptic storylines as they try to second guess what their heroes would do and how they manage to survive whilst explaining the process of events that lead up to the disaster. In these books I have often found plot holes or solutions long before the protagonist which has left me feeling completely unsatisfied.
This book has none of those irritating little ‘nit bits’ and is beautifully filmic in its descriptions and realistic in its problems and obstacles. It kept me guessing and uncertain to their outcome right to the last line whilst simultaneously avoiding all common clichés of this genre.
My number one apocalyptic dystopian novel and storyline to date!