Tuesday, July 17, 2007

07.08 The White Mountains by John Christopher

The White Mountains (1967) by John Christopher
Pbk, Collier Books, 214 p.

The White Mountains is the first novel in a post-apocalyptic childrens (well, teen really) trilogy. The setting is a world that has fallen back to a time that most closely resembles the middle ages - an agrarian society. The world is ruled by the Tripods, giant metal aliens who rule nearly every person on the planet through a single event - the capping. When every child reaches 14 a Tripod shows up and takes them into the alien machine. Upon their release, the children are literally capped after some sort of surgery which renders them compliant and cowed for the rest of their lives.

In this, the first book of the trilogy, we meet Will, a young boy just shy of his capping ceremony. Will encounters a wandering traveler who appears to be like many of the other vagrants of this world; people for whom the capping has gone awry and who are now basically semi-retarded. This man, however, only pretends to be capped and urges Will to flee his English village and make for the White Mountains (Mont Blanc, essentially) where other free-minded individuals have gathered.

Will flees and ends up taking his older (and antagonistic) cousin Henry with him on the journey. The novel tracks their path as they move across the country, cross the channel and towards the mountains. The boys have a number of adventures and narrow escapes viz. a young adults book.

The book is actually quite strongly written and a lot of fun to read. Given Christopher's background in P-A literature I expected something with a bit more of a social edge. Nevertheless, I would definitely have my kids read this book and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy if I can ever find them.

The City of Gold and Lead (1967)
The Pool of Fire (1968)


Olman Feelyus said...

Oh man, I had totally forgotten about these books! I can't believe it's the same John Christopher who wrote No Blade of Grass. Weren't these actually official books in 6th grade or something? Wasn't everyone, even the chicks into this book? I definitely am going to have to re-read this. Nice one.

dsgran said...

sounds good! Are the tripods a not-so-subtle reference to War of the Worlds... or perhaps a not-so-subtle rip-off?

Jarrett said...

dude! I'm'na read the first book and then decide if I can continue. They seem like fast reads. And I'm pretty sure we have all three in the book room of my school.

I'll send em to you if you email me your address.

It'll take me a few weeks to find them though, because we just got a whole mess of new books and the book room is trashed.

Jarrett said...

and is capping supposed to be some sort of circumcision ritual, or puberty symbolism?

Doc Holaday said...

I read this trilogy both as a child and an adult. They are quite good and fast reads. There is also a later-published prequel that is worth reading if you finish the trilogy and want more. I think it's called The Day the Tripods Came.

The imagery certainly smacks of War of the Worlds, and there are some similarities, but these are more of an adventure / coming of age story.