Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Series Review: The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher

Includes: The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, and The Pool of Fire

The Premise:
In a distant future, humanity lives a peaceful and uncomplicated existence under the influence of The Tripods, towering three-legged machines with mysterious origins. During their thirteenth year, boys and girls are fitted with metallic caps as part of a celebration called Capping Day. Those who are capped come back loving their new masters even more, but a few come back changed.

One boy, a year out from his capping, begins to question the benevolence of his metallic masters when one of his close friends comes back a bit … off. So he sets off on an adventure that will lead him far from home and deep into the mysterious machinations of The Tripods!

The Good:
I remember reading this trilogy in Jr. High School and since its heroes were about my age, the books really resonated with me—much like, I’m sure, the Harry Potter books resonated with kids who were Harry’s age. But in re-reading it, the books still held up as compelling entertainment. Granted, I knew all of the words this time through, but Mr. Christopher’s strength as a storyteller is that he doesn’t waste a lot of time with extraneous details. He sets the stage and gets right into the action. Each character is distinctive and real tension and emotion develop as the adventure progresses. Plus, the books aren’t all that lengthy, so you can blow through them in a weekend or over the course of a long plane ride.

The Bad:
The narrator/main character can get a bit annoying. I’m not sure why Mr. Christopher made him such a hothead, but there are times when he strays into some unsympathetic territory, which can lessen the emotional investment.

The Verdict:
Buy it if you have a teenager or are looking for a fun and quick read (If you can find it; I found a used box-set online). Also, the message (yes, there is a bit of a message) actually holds up and is quite prescient for the times we live in.