Book Review: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Book Review: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Shelved: Adult fiction (classic, science fiction, post-apocalyptic)
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #3
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy: The Book Depository
More: Goodreads

I chose The Day of the Triffids to be my third classic book of the year because I knew that John Wyndham’s books were cult classics within the science fiction genre. The Day of the Triffids was published in 1951 and except for the lack of modern technology, you would scarcely believe that it was not published yesterday.

I’d be forgiven for expecting The Day of the Triffids to be really quite silly. I did not mind at all, but that’s just what I expected. The Day of the Triffids starts with Bill Masen waking up in a hospital bed, in silently chaotic London, England, as one of the last people to retain their eyesight. Widespread blindness has turned people either vulnerable or violent, with some attempting to enslave those who can see, turning them into personal guide dogs. But there’s another menace – Triffids, walking poisonous, flesh-eating plants, who shoot to kill.

Bill Masen must simply survive in this lonesome world. He must accept the bleak future ahead, and that is why The Day of the Triffids is so captivating. I pictured the Triffids to be more bulbous than they appear in the BBC adaptation, but no less freakish. Yet, as I said, The Day of the Triffids never once comes across as silly. Perhaps it’s because it is set in familiar streets, such as Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue, or because the Triffids are not cartoonish monsters, but eerie, dangerous organisms that can kill a human being within seconds by blasting them with poison.

The Day of the Triffids also paints a chilling picture of how quickly social structures are altered the majority of the population are unable to see. It no longer matters what social class you are, or where you buy your fancy clothes, just how useful you can now be. It shows just low in the food chain humans can become if a worldwide bodily catastrophe occurs. What, now, is the enemy?

The Day of the Triffids is not particularly action-packed or fast-paced, but it will have you on the edge of your seat all the same, as it’s strength is in its ability to allow you to imagine how you would react while everybody around you is in despair. I’m excited about John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, which I’ve already purchased, and I’d also like to check out The Midwich Cuckoos.

‘When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.’


Published: 2008, originally 1951
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 272

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

  1. […] The Day of the Triffds by John Wyndham ★★★★★ • Goodreads • Buy […]

  2. I enjoyed Triffids also. I did a review here for it.
    I can recommend Midwich Cuckoos too, which I read after Triffids, and also Chocky. I still have a few Wyndhams to track down, but I have no doubt I’ll get through them all in time. He’s a very readable writer, even from this distance in time.

  3. Excellent commentary. The whole concept of this book (and the subsequent movie) inspired me to give it a little shout out in my own novel, “Immaculate Deception.” Some folks have claimed a particular creature of mine was Lovecraftian, but the truth is it came directly from the concept of the triffids.

  4. I would consider Wyndham’s work rather more mainstream works of the sci-fi genre 😉 If you read sci-fi you read something of Wyndham’s…. But yes, he’s quite the writer. I have Out of the Deeps on the shelf waiting to be read.

  5. This sounds so interesting! Thank you for the review – I love anything that holds a message about the potential future for human society. I’m looking forward to reading this.

  6. […] Book Review – The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham This book sounds really interesting… Maybe I’ll read […]

  7. […] The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham How do you fancy having Triffids, walking poisonous, flesh-eating plants, who shoot to kill, sitting in your garden? No, not for you? I picked The Day of the Triffids to be my third classic novel of the year and it constantly had me on the edge of my seat. Against all the other post-apocalyptic novels being published at the moment, it still stands out as being among the most creepy! I’m looking forward to reading The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos next year. […]

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