Tripods #1. Author: John Christopher.
Long Ago, The Tripods — huge, three-legged machines — descended upon Earth and took control. People no longer understand automation nor machines, and unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power.But for a time in each person’s life — in childhood — he is not a slave. Will still has time to escape.
The White Mountains is an older sci-fi that I’ve been meaning to get my hands on for a while now, and… well, I’m not sure what I was expecting, so it couldn’t disappoint expectations.
No, that’s not quite true. It’s a simpler story than I expected. Simpler in a couple of ways. First: the first book is a very straight-forward dystopian journey. All revelations on the tripods are saved for the next book (which I haven’t read yet), and there’s minimum but satisfactory world-building and development of the mind-control theme. I think one recent trend I’ve grown unconsciously used to is the “save the world” dystopian story, and The White Mountains is far too practical for that. Three boys, trying to survive. That’s it. Not a bad thing at all, mind you; I rather like it, it just took me by surprise because of what I’ve become accustomed to.
Second: simple in the style. The blend of telling and showing has a much higher ratio of showing than the ordinary, both in action and character-building. The author is not concerned with giving us a vivid sensory experience – but, to be fair, the stark depiction of complacent slavery has its own vividness to it. There’s a brief boy/girl friendship that could have blossomed into romance, but doesn’t (so different, yes?), and there are shifting tensions between the three boys as they travel, and in both cases the narrator basically tells us what’s going on.
Overall, I did enjoy it. Three out of five stars. The plot does come to a predictable close, but it’s not ‘wrapped up’; it’s not a very satisfying ending, and I’ll be trying to get hold of the next book.
Sexual Content: None.
Violence: Brief fistfight between boys. Characters kill (or at least shut down) a tripod by throwing a grenade into the interior. Sea-captain mentions that ships have been swamped by tripods in the past.