Brief synopsis: Centuries ago the Tripods, giant walking machines with shiny silver domes and trunk-like tentacles, took over the Earth and enslaved all of humanity. Small metal caps wired into the skull shortly after a person’s 13th birthday allow the Tripods to control all thoughts and actions, thereby crushing rebellions before they start. Will Parker will be 13 soon, but he has heard stories of free men and women living in the White Mountains and is on a mission to join them in their fight against the Tripods.
Rating: Travel companion
Long story short: I first read this book in 5th grade and it made such an impression on me that 15 years later (in January when I was at Powell’s in Portland) I bought not only The White Mountains but also the other three books in the Tripod series.
What caught my attention right from the beginning was how difficult it was to pin down exactly when the story takes place. The year isn’t mentioned, but as you learn more about Will and his environment you gather that humans are living in a feudal society, much like Europe in the 10-15th centuries. Yet humans coexist with the Tripods, machines in command of futuristic technology and the ability to do and see things that Will’s peers can’t fathom.
This contrast creates an uneasiness within the reader and gives her the sense that something is not quite right. This was the real draw for me, the feeling of uncertainty and unpredictability created by a story that is simultaneously set in both the past and the future.
The only aspect I didn’t enjoy was that unlike the setting and plot, the narration was a bit juvenile, especially when it came to the dialogue. Will’s character was not half as interesting as his companions’, especially since he spends most of the book complaining and acting churlish. I would much rather have learned more about Henry and Jean-Paul instead.
Despite that minor drawback this is a series I’m looking forward to continuing. They’re relatively short books, so I might squeeze the others in during this reading challenge. Have you read any before? Let me know what you thought!