I so enjoyed John Wyndham’s classic tale set in a post-apocalyptic Britain. It’s such a ridiculous premise – the world goes blind overnight and gets taken over by giant flesh-eating plants – but somehow Wyndham makes it work.
We meet the narrator, Bill Mason, in a hospital bed in London, where he is recovering from an eye operation. He soon realises something is terribly wrong, and it’s a familiar scene, as he goes through the steps of confusion, denial and then dawning realisation that the world will never be the same again.
I have a fascination for this type of story. It’s not so much the monsters or strange supernatural events, but rather the exploration of how people cope with it. How they think in certain situations, how they plan their survival. I often find myself thinking, “what would I do if this happened to me?” And I create a plan of action in my head; what I would grab, where I would head to and how I would set up my new life. I definitely wouldn’t have a clear head, unlike many of the protagonists in this genre. Bill and his companion Josella are particularly impressive with their ability to “keep calm and carry on”, at least most of the time.
And that’s another thing I love about this book – it’s so British. I find I have more of an appreciation for books set in my home country since I moved abroad. The descriptions of London and the English countryside are very recognisable to me. And the slightly old-fashioned style, which is actually less pronounced than I’d expected for a book published in the 1950’s, doesn’t detract from the relevance of themes of natural disasters and the survival of humankind. This book could translate very easily to a modern England.
The Day of the Triffids can be enjoyed on so many levels. The writing is simple, with no added sensationalised scenes of violence or gore for shock-value, allowing head space for the reader to ponder over the book’s exploration of the human condition. But, of course, it’s also simply a really good yarn.