I've always been a big fan of H.G. Wells. Evidently, so was John Wyndham, and it shows.
The Day of the Triffids is a fantastic post-apocalyptic romp that really leaves one thinking about what would happen after "the end". The book, published in 1951, reads almost like a zombie-apocalypse but with killer plants. If the premise sounds silly, it's not in practice. It's terrifying.
When I finished, I wondered if George Romero hadn't read the novel...perhaps inspiring Night of the Living Dead? Okay, that might be a far-fetched idea, but the comparison works.
The narrator/protagonist, Bill, wakes in a hospital after having bandages on his eyes due to an accident with the eponymous triffids. He was wearing a helmet, which protected him for the most part; the triffids are cultivated for their oil, which has a "variety of uses". But, these killer plants can down a person with one sting of their poison, and they feed on the corpses. Well, Bill's accident proves to be quite fortuitous, because a strange "meteor shower" leaves most of humanity blind while he is in the hospital. (You will, dear reader, discover that the meteor shower was nothing of the sort...)
The only advantage mankind had over the triffids was sight. Now that most people are blind...have you ever really wondered what would happen if 99% of the planet went blind overnight. Terrifying.
Wyndham does a fair bit of philosophizing about the nature of mankind, especially through the kinds of societies that emerge after the apocalypse. In that way, it is easy to offer a Marxist type criticism of the book. But I believe the author strikes at something much more primal, something at the core of human nature beyond simple societal structures. Is humankind, at the heart, self-destructive or hopeful?
As with any book, there are a few stumbles, but it was a tremendous read. I'll give it a solid 4.5/5. Its my blog, so I have the prerogative to distribute half-points as I will.
Now, why do I read so "slow"? To tell the truth, I don't. It takes me forever to read a book because I only spend about five minutes a day reading for pleasure. Between writing, my family, and my job...you have the picture, I'm sure. Once a book picks up at the climax, I'm up all night. (As I was Saturday into Sunday.) I also have to read in a near sensory-vacuum. I know many people who can read anytime/anywhere. Not so with this fellow. I need a nice, quiet, semi-dark space. If I manage a book a month during the school year, I'm doing well. I wish I had more time, really, because books like Triffids are fantastic.