Are your loved ones really who you think they are? What if you stood face to face with a member of your family and couldn’t be sure it was really them? Paranoia sweeps through a small town in California sending people in droves to their doctor for reassurance. At the same time odd tales start to emerge about giant seed pods that have been found near a farm on the edge of town. Are they really from space, and if so why are they here?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (AKA The Body Snatchers) is a science fiction novel written by Jack Finney. It originally appeared as a short story in Collier’s magazine in 1954 and was then expanded into a novel published by Dial in 1955.
The people in a small town start to believe that their loved ones are not themselves. They flock to the doctor to try to find out what is going on, and he goes on a mission to find out. There are no identifiable differences but something is wrong. Seed pods from space are replicating themselves into the townsfolk, who are now devoid of emotion and ambition.
Praise and critiques:
For a book from the 1950s, and one that has been knocked off many times, this books holds up pretty well and was a fun read. While I was reading this I tried to look at it from several different lenses, the communist scare of the early cold war has many obvious parallels, but I couldn’t help but feel that much of the fear and paranoia in this story is really about the fear of losing one’s individuality. Since this book takes place in small town America, it could also be taken as a cautionary tale about urban sprawl and the corporatization of businesses. Small businesses close down left and right throughout the story. People are not who they once were, and as the changes occur it leaves the characters feeling more and more isolated. It is interesting how as times change it changes how we read and view books, but regardless of whether you approach this book from a 1950s lens, or one from today, this book still holds up and is worth reading. It differs considerably from the movie adaptations, as books typically do, so if you enjoyed the films this will still be a worthwhile reading experience.
Fans of classic, campy science fiction will enjoy this book.
4 of 5, fun 50s science fiction. Good enough that I’ll read another of his books.