Meh! The Day of the Triffids
is an entertaining, lightning-quick read, but far from a "modern classic" in my opinion. It's part B movie on the Syfy Channel (think Sharktopus
), part critique of various forms of social order, and part discussion of appropriate gender roles in a given society. I kept wishing Wyndham would spend more time on the quirky, Triffidy side of the story. It was the preachy philosophical debate I could have done without.
Here's a sampling of things that frustrated me about The Day of the Triffids
. Within 24 hours of the onset of mass blindness, the privileged sighted few are beginning to choose Social Darwinism over broader compassion. They'd like to help the blind masses, but it's survival of a remnant of the species that really matters to them. Some blind women are considered useful for reproductive purposes; most blind men are viewed as useless. Quite an abhorrent value judgment to make in a lifetime, let alone a day.
Another frustration--before having any reasonable idea of the catastrophe's scope, and still only 24 hours after the "comet debris" wreaks havoc, privileged sighted survivors take over an abandoned high-dollar condo for one last night of finery and remembrance of the good lives they believe gone forever. Wearing a pale blue evening gown, white fur jacket, and diamonds galore, Josella shares this sentimental moment with Bill while unseen blind women sob and scream in the darkness outside:
Josella yawned and stood up.
"Sleepy," she said. "And silk sheets waiting on an ecstatic bed."
She seemed to float across the thick carpet. With her hand on the doorknob she stopped, and turned to regard herself solemnly in a long mirror.
"Some things were fun," she said, and kissed her hand to her reflection.
"Good night, you vain, sweet vision," [Bill] said.
To these frustrations I add: the unbelievability of the love relationship between Josella and Bill; the idea that houses and roads would disintegrate completely after only four years of neglect; the fact that only a handful of people seem to have kept their eyes closed during the fateful blindness-causing light show; and the incomplete analysis of Triffid communication and the plant's possible role in bringing about the blindness. So much more could have been said about Triffids! Instead, we're left with a story about a socioeconomic elite who: give the raspberry to the unfortunate blind, seclude themselves on the Isle of Wight or in upscale rural retreats, and take on a utopian project where women give birth repeatedly for the greater good of the human species. Thanks, but I prefer the murderous, flesh-eating plants.
I was excited to read The Day of the Triffids
, and really wanted to like it. I didn't though. A disappointed two stars from me.