Interesting concepts that provide creepy fun for the whole pod to enjoy.
The author loosely develops a fascinating concept that later provided a veritable sandbox of inspirations and interpretations for years of analysis. This book has been combed over for allegorical meanings through the years, mostly brought on by the various film adaptions. Finney himself denied having had any such agenda other than pure entertainment.
Even still, it is easy to read into this work a tale that strives to spotlights the virtue of individuality in the face of conformity. Whether the mashing conglomeration of society is brought about by political ideology, mob mentality or consumerism, doesn’t really matter.
The writing is easy to read and the plot plods along at a nice pace, without speeding up too much or slowing down too little. The story pauses enough times at well-crafted scenes of horror to create a lasting impression of the core storyline. The dialog felt somewhat stilted, if not dated or formal (sort of like an old 1950’s TV show).
The book has been criticized for its lack of scientific plausibility or credible character developments. However, this story isn’t really meant to be hard Scifi or an in-depth character study. The book is built around a high concept and contains a decent suspense plot that is tempered with Scifi elements. In that sense it largely succeeds. There is also a dogged relentlessness pervading the story that keeps pace throughout and helps to keep the horror aspect in play.
The story centers around a medical doctor operating in a rural town as a general practitioner. He’s divorced and an old flame/fellow divorcee is back in town for him to get excited about. His love interest draws him into the main plot when she asks him to look in on a relative that has a peculiar medical concern that cannot be explained. From there things slowly develop based on the increasing incidences of people acting strangely and the stakes are periodically raised a level along the way. The author does delve into the science behind the story a bit when he uses the doctor and a psychologist to both unravel as well as confuse the mystery.
There are some interesting passages about the different faces people wear in society and what it means to be a person, along with some loose social commentary that gets flipped on its head when it comes from an alien perspective.
The ending has also been criticized for this book and the film versions did not feel the need to follow it. It’s an ending, it works, but that’s about it. Reminds me a bit of an H. G. Wells ending, but less original given the publication date.
The very idea of “pod people” comes from this book. Without having even read this book or watched any of the films, most people will have a general idea of what this means. That, in itself, demonstrates how strong the concept is and how well it was developed by the author.
Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).