What’s That Book? The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Hi Everyone! Today I’d like to welcome Robbie Cheadle, today’s contributor to What’s That Book. Thank you, Robbie!

Title: The Day of the Triffids                                      

Author: John Wyndham

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about? I read The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham as a young teenager and I was completely intrigued by this story. I re-read a few years ago when I went through a John Wyndham phase and read all his books, some for the first time and some for the second.

The Day of the Triffids still fascinates me. It is the story of a man who, by sheer good luck, ends up one of the few sighted people left in the world. The story begins with Bill Mason in hospital recovering from eye surgery. The day has begun most extraordinarily with the nurses not doing their early morning round timeously. Bill also notices that there is no ordinary morning noise outside in the busy street. The atmosphere is illustrated by this quote: “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.

He is already annoyed because a meteor shower the previous evening had delighted the whole world. People had turned out in droves to watch the natural spectacular, but Bill had not been able to watch. He gradually comes to realise that everyone who watched the “show” the previous night has gone blind overnight and that his inability to join in has saved his sight.

Bill’s back story reveals that several years earlier humanity had discovered an unusual meat-eating plant with a vicious sting that could injure, or even kill, human beings. These plants, called triffids, could also move about slowly on a tripod stalk. Despite their threatening nature, the triffids are cultivated so their very desirable oil can be extracted for use by humanity.

In a world of humans who have suddenly become blind and have not had time to adapt to their new circumstances, it soon becomes apparent that the triffids, which have excellent survival instincts, are no longer the inferior species. This is an interesting quote that illustrates the plight of the recently and unexpectedly blinded: “It’s humiliating to be dependent, anyway, but it’s still a poorer pass to have no one to depend on.

At this point in time, they have an advantage over most sightless humans. The triffids also reproduce very prolifically, build up their numbers very fast, and demonstrate some intelligence and planning abilities. An appropriate quote: “You don’t seriously suggest that they’re talking when they make that rattling noise.

The triffids soon start killing the humans for food and finding ways of hunting them down and overcoming their attempts at defense.

To me, the most interesting aspect of this book is how quickly human society starts to break down under duress. Many of the remaining sighted humans take advantage of the recently blinded masses in their new positions as the hunted by the triffids. The sighted abusing the unsighted and force them into slavery.

It was also interesting that the author chose to briefly introduce into the story a man was unsighted at the time of the meteor shower in order to demonstrate how much better prepared he is to survive than the recently sighted masses who have had no opportunity to adapt to their new situation.

How did you hear about it?  I heard about this book from my Grade 7 teacher, Sister Agatha.

Closing comments: The Day of the Triffids is a great work of dystopian fiction which probes the meaning of life, the price of living in certain circumstances, the prospects for survival of humanity subsequent to a global catastrophe, and the social and psychological consequences of a widespread human disaster.

This book is an appropriate read at the current time of a worldwide pandemic as it highlights the initial superior attitudes of humans over nature and demonstrates how quickly and easily this perceived superiority can be reversed.

A final quote that illustrates my last points is as follows:

It must be, I thought, one of the race’s most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that “it can’t happen here”—that one’s own little time and place is beyond cataclysms. And now it was happening here.

Contributor:  Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, horror novels and short stories. She has nine children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle. You can find Robbie on her blog, Roberta Writes.


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100 thoughts on “What’s That Book? The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

  1. I recall reading this for my English Literature exams in the late 1970s – and being surprised that something you studied could be entertaining. Great book, and a useful reminder that I should go back and read it and more of Wyndham’s works. Thanks Robbie – and Barbara, of course!

    1. Hi Graeme – I’m so glad Robbie reviewed this because I had not heard of it and yet I see it is quite well-known. Glad it brought back some memories for you! Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      1. I don’t think I have. I saw The Day of the Triffids with my dad I think at a drive-in the ’60s when I was young and lots of times on late night tv. I learned about the book from my aunt in the ’70s and got her copy. And all the rest of her books I could carry.

  2. I missed the first line about Robbie writing this review, and was going to mention that a friend had recommended this book – and it was Robbie, lol. Thanks for the review – it’s a book I know I’d like!

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for reading and commenting. I had not heard of The Day of the Triffids. I’m glad to know about it – I don’t read much science fiction, but this might make my list. 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on and commented:
    I am over at Book Club Mom’s blog for her What’s that book series with a post about The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Thank you for hosting me, Barbara. If you don’t know Barbara, she shares lovely posts and YouTube videos about all sorts of interesting books and also interviews with Indie authors. Head on over and take a look around.

  4. It’s nice to see Robbie here.:-) I didn’t know this was a book! I saw the movie The Day of the Triffids. (It’s cheesy with old-fashioned special effects and social norms of the time, but that’s to be expected.) I’m sure it is a good book because the movie was so good.

    1. HI Priscilla, I am pleased to know you enjoyed this book. As usual, I have not seen it because I rarely watch movies. My mom listened to the BBC radio recording and she enjoyed it. I have loved this book for years and years.

    2. Hi Priscilla – I’m glad you made the connection! I haven’t read the book and it’s so nice to have guest bloggers review books from genres I don’t know well. (Are you interested in doing one? Just let me know). Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

    1. Hi Harmony – thanks so much for reading and commenting. I don’t read much science fiction, so I did not know this book. I’m so glad Robbie chose it to review here!

  5. I’ve loved Wyndham, like you, since my youth. I read it to my son when he was about 8 and he’s now a lover too. So good to be reminded of a classic of literature. Thank you Robbie.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, TanGental. After reading all these comments, I feel like I must read this. Thank you to Robbie for highlighting a book I didn’t know about!

  6. Thank you, Book Club Mom, for posting Robbie’s excellent review! Terrific summary and analysis, Robbie!

    Reading dystopian fiction during this rather dystopian time can be a challenge as we deal with lots of sobering stuff in real life, but it’s a literary genre that can be riveting and have so much to say about the good and bad humans are capable of.

    1. Hi Dave, you are correct that reading dystopia now can be a little frightening. The fact that this story line involves a man-killing plant makes it more remote from our pandemic that The Stand, for example. It is a very interesting book and I enjoyed the writing very much too.

    2. Hi Dave – I’m glad you enjoyed Robbie’s review of The Day of the Triffids. I didn’t know about this book and was so pleased! Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      1. Hi Jim, my fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your perspective, sons have listened to me read to them every single book I enjoyed as a girl. Michael liked The Wishing Chair and Enchanted Wood series’ by Enid Blyton so much, I re-read them to him several times. Greg still loves The Secret Garden and it’s his favourite children’s book. It was a great excuse for me to purchase as paperbacks, all the books I’d always wanted to own as a girl.

  7. This review definitely makes me want to read the book. Thanks for hosting Robbie. She has pointed me in the direction of several good books. 🙂

      1. What do you find, when you go back? Do they hit you the same, or seem juvenile? I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book more than once. Maybe a review of one that I’ve read. Same with most movies. Unless I totally forgot the movie, that is. LOL

      2. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I was quite an advanced reader and I include some of Stephen King’s early books like The Shining in my category of teenage reads. Great Expectations by Dickens is another. From a more children’s book perspective, I would include Fattifpuffs and Thinifers, I am David, Anne of Green Gables, Child of Satin, Child of God, Alice in Wonderland, and my all time favourite book, The land of far beyond. I still find them comforting and most enjoyable. I have also been known to re-read Fantastic Mr Fox in 15 minutes.

  8. Robbie, an excellent review and summary of The Day of the Triffids! This and all of Wyndham’s books were some of my favourites as a young teenager, to the extent the books are all falling apart! The writing is intense and compelling and wow, the dystopia nature of the story was mind-boggling at the time. Your quote at the end is very apt for current times … when will we ever learn how pompous it sounds to say that ‘it can’t happen here’.

    Barbara, a great share by Robbie and thank you for featuring this article. Hope you’re both having a great week!

    1. Hi Annika, your comment delighted me, I am thrilled you are a fellow Wyndham fan. His writing is very compelling, I agree with you. I’ll never forget his depiction of all the patients in the hospital who have gone blind overnight, milling around in the reception. It was so chilling.

      1. Chatting about Wyndham’s books here is tempting me to pick one or two up again. Did you ever read ‘Chocky’, a short book but incredibly haunting and profound.

    2. Hi Annika – I feel I must read this after reading Robbie’s review and all the positive comments. Thank you for sharing your experience reading Wyndham and thank you for commenting 🙂

  9. Robbie, this sounds like a good read – and the note you gave us was nice addition – because it reminds us that we think it will not happen here – until it does.

    1. Hi Resa – I’m so glad you connected with Robbie’s review. She did a great job and I also want to read The Day of the Triffids. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

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