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Chrysalids [Paperback]

Carroll & Graf Publishers
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 1993
The terrifying story of a world paralyzed by genetic mutation. In a community where deviations are rooted out as abominations, David's ability to communicate by "thought shapes" is a dangerous secret. When his ability is discovered, the results are horrific.

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Product Description


Perfect timing, astringent humour ... One of the few authors whose compulsive readability is a compliment to the intelligence Spectator Remains fresh and disturbing in an entirely unexpected way Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Harrower's plays include Knives in Hens, Kill the Old, Torture Their Young and Dark Earth (Traverse), Presence (Royal Court) The Chrysalids (NT Connections), Blackbird (Edinburgh International Festival; West End), A Slow Air (Tron Theatre, Glasgow). Adaptations include Buchner's Woyzeck (Edinburgh Lyceum), Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author (Young Vic), Chekhov's Ivanov and Horvath's Tales from the Vienna Woods (National Theatre), Schiller's Mary Stuart (National Theatre of Scotland), and Brecht's The Good Soul of Szechuan and Gogol's The Government Inspector (Young Vic). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
WHEN I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city -which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read for $11, 9.5/10 Oct. 21 2014
By Sinsun1
This is one of those books that is very thought provoking.

For its time period to even suggest religion into a bad view is very brave of the author. To call out some of the most outrageous judgements religion causes in a society. (At the time of writing you have to realise that the majority of the people in the Western world were highly religious and more so Christian than any other). Judging people because they are different from you or what your religion/belief says is the "norm".

The book is a worthwhile read, but the only thing I disliked was the ending.. I understand that he was probably getting tired and wanted to wrap it up.. but leaving it on a cliff hanger would have been better than what it did.

This book also highlights some reasons I extremely dislike religion. Given the freedom and complete power, I could see modern religious groups doing this exact thing to anyone different from them. The extremists take it over and cast out/kill anyone different.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Chrysalids Sept. 8 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this probably 30 years ago in school and the only thing I remembered about it was that it was the first time I had heard the terms "the norm" and "deviant". I had a chance to give it another read and I'm really glad I did.

It is a story about post-apocalyptic earth, or more specifically Labrador in Canada. We learn that something incredibly drastic occurred possibly a thousand or more years ago that involved radiation and it has caused widespread genetic mutations. The people of Labrador cannot venture far from home either as radiation levels increase further down the coast. And what do God-fearing people in close quarters do when they are scared to death? They teach their children that it's the fault of humanity for not following the teachings of the bible...and they teach their children, etc, etc. What these people latched on to from the bible was the interpretation of human. You needed to be born with two arms, two legs, two hands, four fingers, two thumbs, etc otherwise you were a deviant and had no soul. They also knew exactly what every animal and plant should look like so any deviations to "the norm" were destroyed. In the case of people, any deviations were sterilized and exiled to the badlands. An area still suffering from a higher amount of mutations in all living things.

So many topics for discussion. I can see why this would have been chosen as reading material when I was in school. From society's concept of "the norm" to the benefits and downfalls of religion, or more specifically the bible. The rights of one part of society to condemn to death another part for no wrongdoings other than being born looking different from everyone else. How parts of the world would evolve so differently if totally cut off from one another.

It's a story that makes you think...a lot, and they are my favorite kind.
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By gordo
As a child, David has learned the strict rules of his society: "Watch Thou for the Mutant," "The Norm is the Will of God," and "The Devil is the Father of Deviation." This all meant that any living things, plant, animal, or man, had to be sacrificed or banished as soon as it was discovered to be deviant. David's father, Joseph Strorm, was the leader in the vigilant lookout for deviations in the society.
Waknuk was fortunate, because it was in Labrador, far away from the center of the nuclear war, the Badlands, further to the south. Since God had sent Tribulation down upon the Old People, humans had been struggling to return to the level of civilization that the Old People were at. Now because the past generations of Waknuk had been very careful, the community was now almost free of deviations that were the result of Tribulation. Any that did appear were destroyed or, in the case of blasphemies, banished to the Fringes.
At the beginning of the story David meets Sophie Wender and discovers that she is a physical deviant with six toes on each foot. Both she and her family are forced to run away when they are discovered by Alan Ervin. They are captured and banished to the Fringes. This problem is intensified when he sees his aunt driven to suicide because she has given birth to her third deviated baby.
David is concerned for his own personal safety when he realizes that he and the group are also deviants, because of their ability to communicate with each other in thought patterns.
Although they manage to hide their deviation, the birth of David's little sister, Petra, causes numerous problems. This is because she is still an infant and is unable to control her powers. An incident occurs in which she, David and his cousin Rosalind, are found out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History Repeating Itself Nov. 29 2000
By A Customer
The future society depicted in "The Chrysalids" is still suffering the after-effects of a disaster sent by God, which all but destroyed the ancient world of the Old People. The survivors called the disaster Tribulation. No one knows why it happened, but the narrator, David, attributes it to "a phase of irreligious arrogance", which God, in his anger, punished. Only a few legends of the Old People remain. Centuries (millenia?) have passed, and the descendents of the Old People continue to pick up the pieces.
"The Chrysalids" is a book that deals with the issue of normality. Basically, to be considered normal you have to be in the majority. In the world David describes anything "not right" is deemed an "Offence" or a "Blasphemy". Mutants are seen as the spawn of the devil and must be destroyed to preserve the true image. (Throughout history people have always needed someone to persecute for the world's ills.)
The reader will probably have guessed that this is a world after a nuclear holocaust. But we don't actually know for sure. Other reviewers have criticised the scientific validity of radiation and its effects. For all we know it could have been a weapon even more powerful than an H-bomb that caused Tribulation. (Who knows what scientific marvels the 21st century will bring? No one imagined nuclear weapons at the start of the 20th.)
I like the way the book has a go at the self-righteousness of religion. How much cruelty and suffering has been inflicted on innocent people in the name of religion? The way mutants are treated in "The Chrysalids" is reminiscent of the witch hunts in 18th century Europe. As a matter of fact, the future described in this book resembles the 18th century.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
Good story. Strong beginning and middle but tails off toward to end.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Lego
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent condition. A fascinating read, in older writing style.
Published 1 month ago by Wabbit
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Wyndham is great.
Published 2 months ago by Tricia Arthurs
5.0 out of 5 stars I read this book in high school and loved it. I've recently read it...
I read this book in high school and loved it. I've recently read it again, 20 years later, and it's even better than the first time. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Linsey Tufts
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic tale of prejudice and fear in the future
I never imagined science fiction was anything other than battleships in the universe and Aliens. This is so creative and different - it made me a fan of the genre for life. Read more
Published 13 months ago by P. Bianco
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
John Wyndham takes you into a distopian future where in this corner of the world society has become fanatical about preserving the human normal. Read more
Published 13 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
re reading an old classic, still a good book. though I really thought it would be free, since it is so well read and not a new book. Read more
Published 14 months ago by brandy
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story
Was my first time reading something form this author but not the last. I think this book is genius in a way that we can relate even now in this 21st century...
Published 21 months ago by David p
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, a great read
I do wish I could have gotten a copy with the cover I remember for the same price, but am thrilled to own a copy again.
Published on March 20 2012 by A. Craig
3.0 out of 5 stars A good beginning, but then a quick fall off a high cliff....
Because this has been labeled as being a Sophomore High School English text book, I was quite surprised at the high quality of symbolism that was featured in the first half of the... Read more
Published on July 21 2011 by Ronald W. Maron
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