Thursday, April 8, 2010

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Title: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Jack Finney
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Pages: 216

Perhaps more famous for the four movie versions of the novel (1956, 1978, 1993, and 2007), Invasion of the Body Snatchers is, nonetheless, a classic in science fiction literature. The story of a small town invaded by lifeforms that look like seed pods is probably very familiar to most people. Alien invasion itself was a common theme in 1950s pop culture. Yet, the emotions behind this particular story are what really makes it all work.

The novel follows Miles Bennell, Mill Valley's local doctor. The action begins when an old flame, Becky Driscoll, comes to see him regarding her cousin. Becky is afraid that her cousin may be going insane as she keeps protesting that her uncle is not her uncle, but a clever impostor. As the story unfolds, more people come to Miles panicked with the same problems as Becky. Then, suddenly one day, everyone is fine. Those who had come to Miles felt so silly for panicking. Everything seems fine until Jack Belicec comes to Miles because Jack and his wife had found what appeared to be a dead body in their basement. The body is of a man, but there are no defining characteristics about him. He has no scars, no birth marks, and no finger prints. Things reach a fever pitch when the body's appearance begins to change.

This is a story about survival and the enduring will to remain true to ones identity. There are a few scientific elements within the novel, but the main focus is on the characters. Most of the story focuses on Miles' attempts to solve this mystery and his inner thoughts regarding everything that was happening around him. Perhaps because the story has been made into a movie so many times, some readers may be frustrated that the characters so long to figure out what is happening around them. At the same time, others may enjoy the process Miles and his friends go through in battling these unknown creatures who are taking the forms of the their loved ones.

I would highly recommend this to any reader who is has never read science fiction before, but would like to try it. Since it is rather light on the scientific jargon, those who may not be as familiar with physics or astronomy won't feel lost or overwhelmed. I would also recommend this to any reader who enjoys character-based novels. Much of the novel is made up of Miles' thoughts and feelings. Those who enjoy getting to know a character will find this novel compelling, yet there is enough action that those who prefer story-based novels will also find it enjoyable. The chase sequence at the end adds a taut thrill. Overall, I found it to be a satisfying science fiction adventure about humanity's will to survive.

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