Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Read 10/23/14
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended for the campy fun of it
Pages: 216
Publisher: Touchstone
Released: originally published in 1955

The other night, I was standing in front of my bookshelves looking for a quick read to curl up with. Something seasonally appropriate that wouldn't mush my brain or try my patience too much. And that's when I saw the yellow and white spine of Invasion of the Body Snatchers staring out at me. To be honest, I'd forgotten that I even had this book. But suddenly, it was the only thing I wanted to read. So, I immediately pulled it off the shelf and started reading.

Side note: It's not hard to forget which books I own since I have two whole bookshelves that are devoted entirely to unread books. Because I have a book-sale buying problem. Because I can never have enough books, ever.

Another side note: I've never watched either of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers films. But I do admit to youtubing clips of the 1978 version after finishing the book - holy young Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum! but holy bad acting and special effects, right? Did you see that dog with the man-face? What in the hell?!?! Even though I really dug the book, I think it's pretty safe to say I won't be looking that one up on Netflix, ever.

Thankfully, the book - initially released in 1955, set in 1976 - holds up a hell of a lot better. Kinney's writing is gripping, the story line tight in that "it's science fiction and so I know I have to suspend belief to get the most of out it" way, and the tension perfectly... tense? I mean, a small town out in the middle of nowhere, slowly being taken over by alien pod people, right under the townspeople's noses? Finding blank unformed pasty bodies in your basement, laying there, patiently waiting for you to fall asleep so they can duplicate you and turn you into dust? Who wouldn't freak the fuck out over that?!

I was a total sucker for the increasing sense of dread and doubt and confusion Kinney created, though the whole "who can we trust" thing? Yeah, not to brag, but I knew Miles' confidant Manny was tainted ages before Miles caught on. Only, that really didn't stop me from thinking, shit.. what if that was happening in my town, right? I mean, how WOULD YOU KNOW who you could trust when everyone looked the same and talked the same and knew all of the same things they knew before they were alienized? You'd become a blubbering, paranoid lunatic in no time.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers is so typical of the 1950's science fiction scene, with the world - at that time - completely obsessed with the idea of alien invasion. It's so perfectly campy and so not a thing that anyone really worries about any more.

I can't tell you how much I love reading classic sci-fi like this, that's set in a future that we've already outlived. And that deals with a fear that we've learned to overcome. It's a humbling peek into our history, into what we perceived the future to be like, and it's nuts to see how un-far we've come but such a fun way to spend an evening.

Oh, and for a good laugh, check out this review of the book. I don't know who they are, but they are a riot!

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