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The Body Snatchers (Stephen King Horror Library)

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This edition of Finney's horror classic contains an introduction by Stephen King as well as a modernized text. This edition of Finney's horror classic contains an introduction by Stephen King as well as a modernized text.


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This edition of Finney's horror classic contains an introduction by Stephen King as well as a modernized text. This edition of Finney's horror classic contains an introduction by Stephen King as well as a modernized text.

30 review for The Body Snatchers (Stephen King Horror Library)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    The Body Snatchers - What a extraordinary reading experience. Much of the fascination in turning the pages derives from the reader knowing this is a novel of science fiction - watching as the men and women eventually discover the body snatchers are aliens from outer space, hardly a giveaway as even the movie and more recent publications of the book carry the title Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The eerie atmosphere is established within the very first pages when the narrator, Dr. Miles Bennell, The Body Snatchers - What a extraordinary reading experience. Much of the fascination in turning the pages derives from the reader knowing this is a novel of science fiction - watching as the men and women eventually discover the body snatchers are aliens from outer space, hardly a giveaway as even the movie and more recent publications of the book carry the title Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The eerie atmosphere is established within the very first pages when the narrator, Dr. Miles Bennell, shares his recent encounters with a number of patients all living in the small town of Mill Valley, California. First, there's Becky Driscoll who tells him her Cousin Wilma thinks her Uncle Ira is an impostor. Becky persuades Miles to investigate immediately and they both drive to the house of Ira Lentz in Miles' 1973 Mercedes two-seater (Jack Finney's novel was published in 1955, thus The Body Snatchers is near-future sf). Miles pulls up and sees Uncle Ira out on his lawn, the same Mr. Lentz he has known since delivering papers as a kid. After exchanging a few words, Miles reflects: "Hell, it was Uncle Ira, every hair, every line of his face, every word, movement, and thought, and I felt like a fool." Although Wilma acknowledges Uncle Ira looks and speaks like Ira, has all the memories and observations of Ira, she KNOWS he's not her Uncle Ira. Miles asks if she has spoken to her Aunt Aleda, since, after all, Aleda would certainly detect any difference in her husband. Wilma shakes her head 'no' and says between tears, almost on the point of hysteria: "Because - Miles - she's not my Aunt Aleda, either!" Miles admits that all this is well beyond his professional capacity as a general practitioner of medicine and recommends Wilma see a psychiatrist he knows and thereafter takes his leave. Alarming to be sure since, after all, Wilma is an otherwise levelheaded woman. And over the course of the next week, even more reason for alarm: more patients report a variation of Wilma's story. Then it happens: Miles' friend Jack Belicec, a writer of fiction, grabs Miles on evening as the doctor and Becky are watching a film at the local movie house. Jack tells Miles he has something to show him back at his house, something much more interesting than any film. They drive out and walk down to Jack's basement. They don't have to walk far before they all peer down. And there it is. Now the alarm bells really start ringing. What makes The Body Snatchers such a riveting story is Miles’ every single step, his every encounter and exchange is charged with suspense, make that supercharged with suspense. Psychological theories are expounded, newspaper reports consulted, telephone calls made, but, damn it, there comes a point where reason can go just so far. What the hell is going on here? Jack Finney's novel is also a snapshot of 1950s small town American - many are the allusions made to the times when Miles was growing up, visiting the local library, dating Becky in high school, seeing all the familiar faces around town. But, now, as Miles and Becky walk down Mill Valley's main street, they can see the entire town is altered, nearly dead - rarely do they see anybody outside and all the trash and litter scattered about makes for one dirty, grubby Mill Valley. The lack of warmth Miles feels from people reminds him of one particular poignant memory, back years ago when he overheard the always friendly Billy the shoeshine boy: ""That's all I want, Colonel, just to handle people's shoes. Le'me kiss 'em! Please le'me kiss your feet." The pent-up bitterness of years tainted every word and syllable he spoke. And them, for a full minute perhaps, standing there on the sidewalk of the slum he lived in, Billy went on with this quietly hysterical parody of himself." No doubt about it, Miles broods, all the warmth he might feel from these Mill Valley people here and now is nothing but a façade. As we discover toward the end of the book, The Body Snatchers is also a tale of the hero’s journey, a journey requiring great courage and wits. Fortunately for Dr. Miles Bennell, he has his once old flame, now new flame, beautiful, resourceful Becky right by his side. An outstanding, highly original novel not to be missed. American author Jack Finney, 1911-1995 “Relationship building at a distance, through the filter of a computer, is ultimately ineffective for the sincere friend seeker, but it is ideally suited to the sociopath whose powers of manipulation are enhanced when he can operate not merely behind his usual masks but behind an electronic mask as well.” ― Jack Finney, The Body Snatchers

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Wow, this was waaay better than I expected it to be! Hurray for pleasant surprises! I expected pure pulp. I figured this was a toss-off, dime-store sci-fi novel that benefited from the success of two film versions. I haven't actually sat down and watched either the 1956 or '78 movies (though I have seen The World's End, the Wright/Pegg loose take on it), so the plot hadn't been fully spoiled and reading the book would provide some surprises and a bit of entertainment. I got that and more! If Invas Wow, this was waaay better than I expected it to be! Hurray for pleasant surprises! I expected pure pulp. I figured this was a toss-off, dime-store sci-fi novel that benefited from the success of two film versions. I haven't actually sat down and watched either the 1956 or '78 movies (though I have seen The World's End, the Wright/Pegg loose take on it), so the plot hadn't been fully spoiled and reading the book would provide some surprises and a bit of entertainment. I got that and more! If Invasion of the Body Snatchers is any indication, Jack Finney was a very competent writer. There's a natural flow to this book. The main character, a doctor who knows all the people in his small Bay Area town, narrates in a marvelously conversational manner. You'll probably like the doc right off and find it as easy to root for him as I did. And the plot is similarly well-constructed in a way that you immediately are drawn into the story and are pulling for the protagonist and his posse.... I just realized that I'm writing this review in a cagey manner, trying my best to avoid spoilers, such as mentioning that alien beings invade Earth in order to obtain individuals, a sort of invasion of body snatchers, if you will. Yeah, I wouldn't want to give anything away! Even if you're quite aware of the plot, and how can you not be, you will nonetheless probably find this an enjoyable read. I know I'm quite glad I picked it up!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    This 1950’s Sci-Fi Classic certainly evokes the time period of small town America from whence this novel was originally written, but the chilling paranoia of infiltration still resonates today. The reader is instantly thrust into the story as Becky Driscoll explains to Doctor Miles Bennell that her cousin Wilma’s uncle Ira has been acting strangely. He appears to be himself, but it’s he’s characteristic traits are different... Human emotions is very central to the story. I love that the invasion had This 1950’s Sci-Fi Classic certainly evokes the time period of small town America from whence this novel was originally written, but the chilling paranoia of infiltration still resonates today. The reader is instantly thrust into the story as Becky Driscoll explains to Doctor Miles Bennell that her cousin Wilma’s uncle Ira has been acting strangely. He appears to be himself, but it’s he’s characteristic traits are different... Human emotions is very central to the story. I love that the invasion had already started before the first chapter, Uncle Ira inhumanity had already starts alarm bells ringing, with similar stories surfacing is the human race to late to stop the alien plan? There’s a distinctive 1950’s feel to the plot but that only enhances the story, this is a time when everyone knew each other in their small communities. You’re neighbour may appear normal, but have they been altered? It’s a gripping quick read that is a must for all Sci-Fi and Horror fans!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    One of the most original SF novels I have ever read - the undercurrent commentary on socialization and identification of 'otherness' should put this book on the shelf of anyone studying social science. One of the most original SF novels I have ever read - the undercurrent commentary on socialization and identification of 'otherness' should put this book on the shelf of anyone studying social science.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael || TheNeverendingTBR

    They get you when you sleep... Dr. Miles Bennell is confused when a bunch of his patients come to him with the same complaint, their loved ones seem to have been replaced by emotionless impostors. His former girlfriend Becky and his friend Jack soon discover that the patients suspicions are true and an alien species of human duplicates, grown from plant-like pods is taking over their town. I've seen all of the adaptations of this book, so basically knew the plot, I guess why that's why I put off re They get you when you sleep... Dr. Miles Bennell is confused when a bunch of his patients come to him with the same complaint, their loved ones seem to have been replaced by emotionless impostors. His former girlfriend Becky and his friend Jack soon discover that the patients suspicions are true and an alien species of human duplicates, grown from plant-like pods is taking over their town. I've seen all of the adaptations of this book, so basically knew the plot, I guess why that's why I put off reading it for so long but I really enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to watching the 1978 version again - god that movie is terrifying.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    I’ve seen several of the film adaptations of this book, so I knew what to expect. I still found The Body Snatchers to be an exciting read. How much more so for those who read the book before the movies were released? I did feel though that the plot was let down by a weak ending. It is of course a book that has been endlessly analysed. One of the main theories is that it represents “Cold War paranoia” about the infiltration of communists into 1950s America. Alternatively the story is an allegory a I’ve seen several of the film adaptations of this book, so I knew what to expect. I still found The Body Snatchers to be an exciting read. How much more so for those who read the book before the movies were released? I did feel though that the plot was let down by a weak ending. It is of course a book that has been endlessly analysed. One of the main theories is that it represents “Cold War paranoia” about the infiltration of communists into 1950s America. Alternatively the story is an allegory about the enforcement of conformity - the tendency of every society to develop behavioural and cultural norms and to be intolerant of those who dissent from them. I probably prefer the latter interpretation, probably because that particular subject interests me anyway. Using the second interpretation, the theme of the novel remains relevant today, and will always remain relevant. As I kid I watched the original Star Trek series, and I have a memory that some episodes had a message about the human need to struggle. That’s another of the themes of this novel. Before the main character realises fully what is going on, he notices a deterioration in his home town. Rubbish is left uncollected, lawns are left uncut, and the shops start to close down. Nobody does anything, because the aliens who replace the human inhabitants are listless and lack any drive or ambition. The aliens argue that it is better to live in a world without stress, worry and overwork, but our hero, Dr. Miles Bennell, realises that would also be a world without any creativity or challenge. The body snatchers of the novel are a scary bunch for sure, but they aren’t evil. They feel no enmity towards humans, but they must replace humanity simply because that is their “function” – it is the way they survive and reproduce. The comparison is made with the way humans have sought to eliminate animals, insects, or plants that pose a threat to us or compete for our food supply. The body snatchers are more comprehensive still, since they pose an existential threat to every other lifeform they encounter. I always find it interesting to read the source books for these well-known films, but I’m glad to say that I found The Body Snatchers a worthwhile read in itself.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Ah, 1950s science fiction mixed with a touch of horror... you know what that means don't you? Cold war paranoia of course! For a genre that is now established as fairly progressive, 1950s science fiction was practically a source of propaganda for the cinemas. The "keep watching the stars" and the "observe your neighbors because they might be pod people" mentality... because of course the stars were Russia and the pod people were those commies. Every proper American knew it... right? Hell, the o Ah, 1950s science fiction mixed with a touch of horror... you know what that means don't you? Cold war paranoia of course! For a genre that is now established as fairly progressive, 1950s science fiction was practically a source of propaganda for the cinemas. The "keep watching the stars" and the "observe your neighbors because they might be pod people" mentality... because of course the stars were Russia and the pod people were those commies. Every proper American knew it... right? Hell, the only way the first film adaptation could have been any more blunt would have been to colorize it in red, white and blue, using red only on the pod people. Yes, yes, I know I'm mocking this a bit too much perhaps. Honestly, I enjoy these books though because I find the mentality amusing, while still recognizing the damaging aspect of it. Enough of that now, on with the actual book. So, there's no point in giving a plot description here. The plot has been made into something like five films at this point, and has been referenced in countless other forms of entertainment. The book is a moderately entertaining piece of fiction, that honestly, has arguably been improved by the cinematic adaptations. I rarely say that, but I believe it to be the case here. The films (even the 1950s version) are much darker than the actual novel, presenting more fear and more of a sense of scale. Both the 50s and 70s films create a force that is seemingly unstoppable, (view spoiler)[and in at least one of those films, our heroes end in failure. (hide spoiler)] Here the fear is there, the paranoia is there and the menace is there too... but not executed as well or as thoughtfully, and the book gets wrapped up way too nicely and too quickly. (view spoiler)[Seriously, within the last 20 pages, we go from hopeless scenarios to all's well that ends well. (hide spoiler)] This is honestly one of those books that I suggest mostly to cinemas fans that want to see the origin of a classic set of films. It is not a great work, and modern readers will no doubt take issues with some of the books views ("As most wives, even the wisest, do with any real conviction held by their husbands, Theodora accepted this and made it her own." was a particularly cringe inducing line). I give it 3/5 stars for being a fairly entertaining tale overall, and because cold war sci-fi just kind of makes me grin.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    When my son called last night and asked what I was doing, I told him I had just finished reading Invasion of the Body Snatchers and was thinking of going down the basement to look for seed pods......(he cracked up)I think everyone pretty much knows this story, and oh what a blast it was reading this sci-fi novel from the past. This super fast-paced work was so much better than I thought it would be and had a far different ending from the movie version I remember. If I was not already familiar wi When my son called last night and asked what I was doing, I told him I had just finished reading Invasion of the Body Snatchers and was thinking of going down the basement to look for seed pods......(he cracked up)I think everyone pretty much knows this story, and oh what a blast it was reading this sci-fi novel from the past. This super fast-paced work was so much better than I thought it would be and had a far different ending from the movie version I remember. If I was not already familiar with the storyline, it would have scared the pants off me!Anyway, his "old" tale from the 1950's is not without a few minor flaws, (view spoiler)[i.e., the too fast deterioration of the buildings and roads come to mind (hide spoiler)] , but for the most part, a super entertaining and worthwhile read. (the skeleton scene is by far my favorite)If you have not read this novel and like science fiction, (view spoiler)[take a fast trip to the small town of Mill Valley, meet Dr. Miles and his old flame Becky, and experience the alien parasites from outer space that replicate your body if you dare to fall asleep. (hide spoiler)] Highly recommend!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    2.5 stars. Now before you think I am about to go all RANTBO on this SF classic, let me say almost mostly partially unequivocally, that I did not DISLIKE this book. I mean I don't recall ever having a meltdown moment like this while reading it: It’s just that.........WAIT.........back up, I have mispoken as the above is not exactly true. There was one point in the story where DoctorDanny Kauffman, amateur physicist and apparent moron, tells our narrator that the sunlight...SUNLIGHT...shining 2.5 stars. Now before you think I am about to go all RANTBO on this SF classic, let me say almost mostly partially unequivocally, that I did not DISLIKE this book. I mean I don't recall ever having a meltdown moment like this while reading it: It’s just that.........WAIT.........back up, I have mispoken as the above is not exactly true. There was one point in the story where DoctorDanny Kauffman, amateur physicist and apparent moron, tells our narrator that the sunlight...SUNLIGHT...shining on an acre of farm land WEIGHS...several...TONS. WOWZA!!! After reading the passage again...and again...and then again to confirm that I hadn’t been having a beer bong flashback, I ended up having to bang my head against the wall to make the “brain pain” go away...and I probably did made a face like old Don Don's during that little episode. But apart from that, I thought it was okay.......WAIT........there was one other part that will require us stepping into the spoiler zone to discuss...(view spoiler)[...everybody here...good... so these alien “organic” pods that have landed on Earth decide to leave and some-a-dumb-how are able to achieve escape...WTF...velocity from the planet Earth by themselves. NO rockets, NO spaceship, NO flying sons of Krypton...just a hop, skip and a “fuck the physics” and they are out of here... (hide spoiler)] . Okay, now that one did have me feeling a tad ...which lasted until I poured a few shots and contacted my animal spirit guide to help me find my way back from the edge of Crazy Town. Okay, Okay, so I guess there were a few parts of the story that didn’t quite sit all warm and welcome with my noggin. However, I do need to give the story props for the pacing and ever increasing sense of dread that the narrator is able to bring to the story. I do acknowledge that a major focus of the story was to create a sense of paranoia analogous to the “isms” of the 1950‘s, mainly the “who can you trust” feeling inspired by the McCarthy communist witch hunts of the period. On that level, the story did a pretty good job. I also appreciated the parallel drawn in the story to the McCarthy period by have the narrator depict people that he has known for years as suddenly not being “the same” and feeling somehow alien. I liked that and think that the author did a very good job with that aspect of the story. HOWEVER, creating significant interference to my book reading joy were several story elements that either didn’t make sense or were just so comically hokey as to shatnerquake my suspension of disbelief. I have mentioned a few of these above and would add to those that general annoying “stupidity” on the part of the characters that has people like me screaming at the proverbial movie screen “don’t go in there you idiot.” ....Shit, they went in there. I know it probably feels like I am bashing on this, but I really did not dislike it. It was somewhere between “okay” and “I like it” and so I settled on two stars. I probably would have even rounded up to 3 stars, but I absolutely HATED the ending and thought the explanation for the ending was flat out stupid. I must go back under the cone of silence to explain. (view spoiler)[ So, the body snatching pea pods are on their way to taking over the whole world. They are spreading out to the neighboring towns and it is only a matter of time. THEN....just because the main character and his squeeze decide to get a little uppity and fight back a bit, the podites decide it's just not worth it and so take off for greener pastures...presumably to spend hundreds, thousands or even millions or years floating in space waiting to “run into” another suitable planet. (hide spoiler)] NO, NO, NO, NO, NO and HELLZA NO. I don't buy it. And yes, I get the not so subtle subtextual message of “a few good people willing to fight back is all it takes." Sorry Petey Positive, while I appreciate the sentiment, it doesn’t quite mesh with my worldview, so I have to dock you a star for that. Thus, overall it was better than okay but a few major problems keep me from awarding it a third star. Oh yeah, I almost forgot...no DOG POD people which was a major downer:

  10. 4 out of 5

    emma

    If there are any aliens reading this who are looking for a body to take over, hmu. Living is hard and I am ready to hand over that responsibility to some other life form. I will not (repeat: NOT) attempt to save the world through any self-destructive means necessary like these buffoons. Just let me know. Anyway this book was mildly entertaining but had a really awful boring female character (read: love interest) who almost never did anything except to cling to Our Hero's elbow and, like, make him If there are any aliens reading this who are looking for a body to take over, hmu. Living is hard and I am ready to hand over that responsibility to some other life form. I will not (repeat: NOT) attempt to save the world through any self-destructive means necessary like these buffoons. Just let me know. Anyway this book was mildly entertaining but had a really awful boring female character (read: love interest) who almost never did anything except to cling to Our Hero's elbow and, like, make him carry her and cry into his chest and dumb damsel sh*t like that. Hated it. She came up with a plan once, and it was referred to as "Becky's flimsy notion" and honestly even if that wasn't the way it was handled one plan is not enough for 206 pages of full-on DAMSELING, BECKY. Whatever. Bottom line: No thank you, 1950s gender roles!!!!!!! I'm not interested bye!!!! (But to the aliens: I definitely am interested still please message me for my contact info my inbox is open kthanksbye.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers landed in the bi-weekly fiction magazine Collier's, which published Jack Finney's story as a three-part serial over consecutive issues beginning in November 1954. Finney had already seen thirty of his short stories run in Good Housekeeping or Collier's, but the response to what was at that time titled The Body Snatchers was huge. At no point since has the "pod person" not been a part of our vernacular, with four feature films and countless spoofs and homages to rem Invasion of the Body Snatchers landed in the bi-weekly fiction magazine Collier's, which published Jack Finney's story as a three-part serial over consecutive issues beginning in November 1954. Finney had already seen thirty of his short stories run in Good Housekeeping or Collier's, but the response to what was at that time titled The Body Snatchers was huge. At no point since has the "pod person" not been a part of our vernacular, with four feature films and countless spoofs and homages to remind each generation. Finney's source material bears passing resemblance to the classic B-movie directed by Don Siegel and distributed by the Allied Artists Picture Corporation in 1956. In a small Northern Californian town, twenty-eight year old general practitioner Dr. Miles Bennell is reunited with a close friend, Becky Driscoll, who's returned to town following her divorce. Though mutually attracted to each other, Becky's visit to Miles is not purely social. She's come to ask him to see her cousin Wilma Lentz, who's suffering a delusion that her Uncle Ira is an imposter who only looks like her uncle. Says Wilma, "Miles, he looks, sounds, acts, and remembers exactly like Ira. On the outside. But inside he's different. His responses"--she stopped, hunting for the word--"aren't emotionally right, if I can explain that. He remembers the past, in detail, and he'll smile and say, 'You were sure a cute youngster, Willy. Bright one, too,' just the way Uncle Ira did. But there's something missing, and the same thing is true of Aunt Aleda, lately." Miles refers Wilma to his colleague, psychiatrist Manfred Kaufman. Mannie confides that nine patients have come to him with fears of loved ones who are imposters; his opinion is that none of these patients are suffering from neuroses but dealing with something external and real. Miles' friend Jack Belicec, a writer, pulls Miles out of a movie theater during a date with Becky to bring him to his house, where his wife Theodora keeps watch on something Jack discovered under the basement stairs. The strange corpse, which the Belicecs have laid out on a billiard table, shows no wounds or signs of death. It has no scar tissue and Miles notes the face looks ... vague. He also determines the corpse has no fingerprints. Connecting the corpse with the imposter stories spreading through town, Miles suggests that Theodora keep watch on the body while her husband sleeps, waking him if she notices any changes in the corpse. Miles returns home, falls asleep and is wakened by Jack & Theodora, who fled their home in terror with the answer Miles was afraid of. Realizing that Becky might be in danger, Miles dashes to her home, where she lives with her father. Breaking into their basement and poking around with a pen light, he sees nothing out of the ordinary, at first. Then Miles opens a pair of cupboards. There it lay, on that unpainted pine shelf, flat on its back, eyes wide open, arms motionless at its sides; and I got down on my knees beside it. I think it must actually be possible to lose your mind in an instant, and that perhaps I came very close to it. And now I knew why Theodora Belicec lay on a bed in my house in a state of drugged shock, and I closed my eyes tight, fighting to hold on to control myself. Then I opened them again and looked, holding my mind, by sheer force, in a state of cold and artificial calm. Miles runs upstairs, grabs Becky and before she even wakes up, has carried her halfway to his house. Miles phones Mannie, but when he returns to the Belicec's basement with Jack, the corpse has disappeared. The psychiatrist launches into a measured thesis of what the men might be experiencing: mass delusion, latching onto the story circulating through town about "imposters" and seeing exactly what their imaginations expected to see in those basements. Later, Miles realizes that mass delusion doesn't account for the blank fingerprints, or the fact that the Mannie he knows never used to make his mind up so quickly. Miles and his friends determine that the seed pods popping up in basements first appeared near a farm outside of town, visitors from outer space, of course. Confronted by one of the imposters, they learn that the pods are a desperate form of parasite, traveling across the universe on light energy. They seek new worlds to thrive in, absorbing the atomic particles of their hosts and their memories while they're most vulnerable, during sleep, reducing the hosts to dust with a perfect imitation, perfect except for emotion or free will. Finney retooled his three-part magazine serial twice, first as a novel published in 1955 (as The Body Snatchers) and again in 1978, to take advantage of a major motion picture being released by United Artists. The version I read was the '78. Finney made changes here, altering the title to Invasion of the Body Snatchers to exploit the popularity of the movies, setting the story in 1976 and updating references he felt were antiquated. He changed the name of the town from "Santa Mira" to Mill Valley, where Finney lived. The author also drops a reference to his 1970 novel Time and Again, though only fans will spot it. I have to rate Invasion of the Body Snatchers on two scales, the legacy of the material and the material itself. As legacy, this is five stars. Finney always maintained he wanted to write a good read and nothing more, but like a magic mirror, his story has the power to morph into a commentary on whatever cultural or social conformity is in the air. In the '50s, it was the threat of Communism, or Red hysteria running rampant the United States. In the '70s, there was urban malaise and Me Decade pop psychiatry to be wary of. Today, political correctness or technology might indicate pod activity. As a story, this is three stars at best. Even Finney's retooled 1978 version is exactly what it always was: a magazine serial published in 1954. Becky Driscoll is little more than a doll and frequently appraised by the well-intentioned and gentlemanly Miles by her physical attributes only. She's an accessory to the protagonist and almost seems like a pod person herself. There is a mildly eerie vibe throughout, but Finney lets off the gas too often when it comes to suspense. The plot lists, and much about the biology of the seed pods and their dispersal doesn't make a lot of sense. Without giving much away, Finney's source material lacks the doomsday pulse of the 1956 and 1978 film versions. As such, the writing feels far more disposable. I'm enamored by Finney's wild imagination and how his tale has spread like ivy over the last sixty years, but would mostly recommend the novel to the author's fans. The 1978 film version directed by Philip Kaufman that relocated the action to San Francisco with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright and Leonard Nimoy is the definite version of this material: offbeat, intensely creepy and monumentally tragic.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars Well that was a surprisingly tense read. I haven't seen any of the movie adaptations so didn't know what to expect. I think the ending was a bit anticlimactic given that Jack had done a brilliant job of creating a growing sense of dread and unease. It all just ended a bit too easily in my opinion. Still a really good book that definitely has a place in a high school library for those who want a less flashy sci-fi mystery. 3.5 Stars Well that was a surprisingly tense read. I haven't seen any of the movie adaptations so didn't know what to expect. I think the ending was a bit anticlimactic given that Jack had done a brilliant job of creating a growing sense of dread and unease. It all just ended a bit too easily in my opinion. Still a really good book that definitely has a place in a high school library for those who want a less flashy sci-fi mystery.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Char

    4.5 stars! An excellent story and this narrator, Kristoffer Tabori did it justice.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Werner

    Although I read and liked one of Jack Finney's short stories, "The Third Level," some years ago, in the collection Science Fiction: A Historical Anthology, he's never been a genre author who's particularly on my radar. I read this one only because it was chosen as a common read in one of my Goodreads groups (and I'd voted for a different choice). Nevertheless, I did turn out to like it moderately well as entertainment, though I don't think most readers would confuse it with great literature. Our Although I read and liked one of Jack Finney's short stories, "The Third Level," some years ago, in the collection Science Fiction: A Historical Anthology, he's never been a genre author who's particularly on my radar. I read this one only because it was chosen as a common read in one of my Goodreads groups (and I'd voted for a different choice). Nevertheless, I did turn out to like it moderately well as entertainment, though I don't think most readers would confuse it with great literature. Our geographical setting here is Mill Valley, California, a real-life small town in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, across the strait that separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific. Mill Valley itself is in the hilly interior of the county, away from the sea; Finney was living there when he wrote the novel, and he creates a very realistic sense of place which is one of the book's strengths. While the Goodreads book description gives 1955 as the original publication date of the novel in book format, it was actually published serially (as novels in that day still often were) in Colliers magazine in the prior year. This copy, however, is a 1998 reprint (by Scribner) of the 1978 "revised" edition, which gives the date of the story as the fall of 1976. Nonetheless, though I haven't done a textual comparison, I don't believe Finney made any significant changes in this revision except the date and a passing reference to his later novel Time and Again, both for commercial purposes. For all practical purposes, the entire flavor and texture of the tale suggests that it's set in 1954, and that was the way I took it. The Goodreads description reproduces the cover copy, and the title essentially telegraphs the premise even without the cover. So readers will be aware of the latter going in; it's that "alien life-forms" are "taking over the bodies and minds" of humans. This was a fairly early exploration of that idea in the SF genre, so relatively original for its time, though it subsequently inspired various imitations. Genre readers today may have, as I did, previously encountered the theme in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel The Host and/or its movie adaptation; if so, comparisons between the two are inevitable. A significant difference is that Finney's invaders are replicants who reproduce the images of particular humans' bodies, not the parasites in the actual human bodies of Meyer's more plausible treatment. Another is that Finney depicts a phenomena that's supposedly just in its beginning stage, whereas Meyer's book starts with the earth already taken over and the human race surviving only in tiny hidden enclaves. But the most significant divergence, IMO, is in the basic visions of the two authors and their relative seriousness of literary purpose. Finney simply crafts a basic "Us against Them" thriller, with aliens who are incapable of emotion, to be read as a diversion. Meyer makes her alien invaders three-dimensional and treats their possible interactions with humans as multi-dimensional, making for a novel that's much more emotionally complex and thought-provoking, engaging the mind and the emotions in ways that Finney's treatment can not. The latter necessarily suffers from the comparison. While both authors are offering us "soft" science fiction, in which the "science" is purely in the writer's imagination rather than seriously extrapolated from currently known science, another difference is that while Meyer's invented "science" doesn't actually out-and-out contradict known scientific principles in implausible ways, Finney's really does, and that's another serious defect --"soft" SF is one thing, but asking readers to entertain the patently impossible is another! To be sure, Finney appeals to the theory that a dust-speck sized spore could escape a planet's atmosphere, survive absolute-zero cold, and be propelled by light waves across the void of space for eons to another planet and then germinate --though there are problems with that idea, and not many scientists accept it-- but applying that concept to large numbers of three-foot-long seed pods contradicts the laws of physics; and so, as far as I understand physics, does Finney's explanation for how the replication here operates. (Some of these criticisms were made by reviewers and critics of this novel when it was first published.) Nevertheless, this tale succeeds as well as it does because the author creates a believable small American community and evokes a growing sense of danger and dead, which grips the reader and draws you into the story. While it's much more plot-driven than character driven, Finney also gives us characters who are real enough that we care about them, and are afraid on their behalf. (The scary-thriller element is much more pronounced here than it is in most parts of The Host, since Meyer isn't really trying for it and Finney definitely is.) Like Meyer, Finney is also a writer with standards of taste where language and sexual content is concerned. Bad language here is limited to an occasional h- or d-word, and there's no explicit sex. (There's an instance of implied premarital --though not casual/loose-- sex at one point; but in the context, I wasn't morally outraged.) Overall, I thought that the romantic strand of the plot was well handled, based on something other than purely physical attraction, enhancing the plot rather than overwhelming or dominating it, and bringing together two people I liked and felt would be good for each other. There are movie adaptations of this title, but I've never seen any of them and so can't critique their fidelity to the book. It is worth noting, though, that this 1998 printing has an accidentally displaced page: p. 142 appears both in its proper place and where p. 135 is supposed to be, and the real p. 135 never appears at all. This was initially confusing, took me out of the story, and left a gap in the narrative; though since it was only one page, it was a small gap, and not too crucial!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    2020 Review: Reading with the Evolution of SF group here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... Again, I really liked this. Finney painted the mood & feelings wonderfully without ever bogging down which is difficult to do. I was a little disappointed by the explanation of the lack of life on other planets. It not only dated it, but also didn't make much sense. The ending was great, better than the first few movies. It was wonderfully narrated & made me think a lot about conformity. Highly recom 2020 Review: Reading with the Evolution of SF group here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/... Again, I really liked this. Finney painted the mood & feelings wonderfully without ever bogging down which is difficult to do. I was a little disappointed by the explanation of the lack of life on other planets. It not only dated it, but also didn't make much sense. The ending was great, better than the first few movies. It was wonderfully narrated & made me think a lot about conformity. Highly recommended in any format. 2013 Review: This is a real blast from the past & held up very well over the years. Sure, there are a few real liberties taken with science, but the doctor making house calls was more jarring to me. That was pretty much gone by the 1970's when this futuristic story was to take place, but otherwise it wasn't too dated. There were a few science elements that really strained my suspension of belief, but I found it easy enough to roll with them for the story's sake. I've read this before, but it's been decades & most of my memories are of my favorite film version, the 1978 remake with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, & Veronica Cartwright, although it's been done 4 times. The 1956 version starred Kevin McCarthy & Dana Wynter. For all the movies they were in, this might have been their best roles. The 1993 version was just called "Body Snatchers". I don't think I ever watched it, but plan to see the latest remake called "Invaders" done in 2007 with Daniel Craig & Nicole Kidman. Veronica Cartwright is also in it which is pretty cool. She was in the 1978 one & "Alien" too, I think. [Update: I tried to watch "Invaders", but it was shot from a car cam & I got bored. Never saw Daniel Craig.] All the movies varied from the book, more or less. The earlier two don't end well for humanity, while I've read that the 1993 version is ambiguous & the 2007 is upbeat. The novel's ending (view spoiler)[ is also upbeat, but a bit too magical for me. One fire in one place & ALL the pods leave, deciding they're beat? Much of the horror element of this book hung on the pods' tenacious spread, so this retreat undercuts that. (hide spoiler)] Possible spoilers below to those of you who aren't familiar with this SF classic. I don't know how anyone could be, but just in case... The obvious horror element that people seem to remember, the movies & critics concentrate on is that pods can so perfectly duplicate people that almost no one can tell them from the real one, but they're lacking the vital spark that makes them human, so are a dead end. They will duplicate any living or once living thing, but only last about 5 years before falling to dust. Eventually, the Earth will be as dead as Mars & Luna. That's what the pods do & a point is made, by the pods, that we do, too. The real horror element is the struggle to believe in the threat, though. The Doctor tells this story in the first person past & his description of his struggle is very believable. The way our minds work in familiar grooves, seeing what they expect, & the everyday logic is what everyone struggles against the most. It's what makes the take over possible. The very idea that pod people could replace someone so exactly is ludicrous & even after seeing proof of it, he is argued around again & again. His senses & interpretation must be wrong, not the world. It's this struggle that most don't seem to acknowledge which undercuts a lot of the criticisms leveled against the book, IMO. It's worth the suspension of belief to follow this theme through the struggle. Many other unexplained phenomena (St. Vitus' Dance, rains of toads, human spontaneous combustion, UFO's) are mentioned in support of our ability to ignore what doesn't fit. It's probably a scam, lie, or something, so we briefly acknowledge it and move on with our lives smug & safe in our world view. What else are we missing? The reader did a great job considering he was completely miscast. He had a deep, scratchy, old man voice & the Doctor is only 28 years old, so it just didn't fit, but was still good. Great way to re-read this classic. Highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    “Grey-haired Miss Wyandotte, who twenty years ago had loaned me the first copy of Huckleberry Finn I ever read, looked at me, her face going wooden and blank, with an utterly cold and pitiless alienness. There was nothing there now, in that gaze, nothing in common with me; a fish in the sea had more kinship with me than this staring thing before me.” *Shivers* Just the thing for Halloween! For my month of spooky reading, it is nice to be able to include a sci-fi horror title among the supernatura “Grey-haired Miss Wyandotte, who twenty years ago had loaned me the first copy of Huckleberry Finn I ever read, looked at me, her face going wooden and blank, with an utterly cold and pitiless alienness. There was nothing there now, in that gaze, nothing in common with me; a fish in the sea had more kinship with me than this staring thing before me.” *Shivers* Just the thing for Halloween! For my month of spooky reading, it is nice to be able to include a sci-fi horror title among the supernatural shenanigans. Off the top of my head, I can think of very few sci-fi horror books, the recent Bird Box, I Am Legend, Watchers, The Tommyknockers (and several other Stephen King titles), that is about it, please feel free to add more in the comments. The best example of this subgenre is probably Alien which a novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie. The movie adaptations of Invasion of the Body Snatchers are better known than the source material by Jack Finney. More on them later. First published in 1955 (as “The Body Snatchers”), Invasion of the Body Snatchers is set in a fictional town called Santa Mira, California. One day Dr. Miles Bennell has a visit from Wilma, a lady friend who reckons her Uncle Ira is no longer her Uncle Ira, he has gone all weird. The doctor goes to visit Uncle Ira and finds nothing unusual and prescribe a good night sleep for Wilma (or something along that line). Soon, however, multiple patients come in with the same complaint, their wife/father/daughter etc. are not who they are supposed to be. Then a weird blank-faced body with no fingerprints is found at his friend Jack’s house. The next day oozy pods containing what looks like work in progress bodies show up at the doctor’s house. WTF? If I have not seen three movie versions of this book before it I would probably have rated it 5 stars in spite of a couple of issues. The story is just fantastic, eerie, well-paced and thrilling. The idea of people you have known all your life suddenly becoming emotionless weirdoes is all too easy to imagine. The description of the still developing, incomplete pod people is also effectively vivid. The distribution of the pods by the townspeople is also an oddly disquieting scene. Unfortunately, these excellent features are a little offset by a few issues. The writing is unexceptional and even becomes clunky at times, the characterization is rather bland, and the female characters generally have no agency to speak of (except in one scene where Dr. Bennell’s girlfriend uncharacteristically becomes a badass out of the blue). The ending reminds me of The War of The Worlds, one of the greatest sci-fi books ever, almost ruined by a “cop-out” ending. Without going into details Invasion of the Body Snatchers has a similarly disappointing denouement, a bit of a damp squib after all the preceding thrills. Still, if you are unfamiliar with the story I absolutely recommend this book for its vastly entertaining thrills and creepy atmosphere. If you are a fan of some of the (four) movie adaptations you may find that there is no surprise left and that the moviemakers have unusually improved on the story. Even so, I would still recommend it with the reservations I have mentioned so far. Notes: • I absolutely love the 1978 movie version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It has a great cast and some startling visuals. Better still, it hugely improves on the book’s ending by going into a darker – and more believable - direction. Nimoy, Sutherland and Goldblum. What’s not to love? Not to mention this "dog": • The 1956 adaptation, released just one year after the book’s initial publication, is generally considered a classic. I have seen this on TV a few times and it is indeed excellent and even somewhat scary, but I still like the 1978 remake better. The movie is actually in black & white. • I have not seen the 1993 version so I cannot say anything about it. The 2007 version stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, and still manages to be crap. OK, guys, you can stop adapting this book now. • It has been said that Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an allegory for “the dangers facing America for turning a blind eye to McCarthyism”. Make of that what you will, unfortunately, what I know about McCarthyism can be written on a UK postage stamp and still leave the queen’s head unblemished. • Thank you, Cecily, for reminding me of another classic sci-fi horror The Thing, three adaptations made (from the novella Who Goes There?), again the second version (directed by John Carpenter) is the best. Quotes: “I warn you that what you're starting to read is full of loose ends and unanswered questions. It will not be neatly tied up at the end, everything resolved and satisfactorily explained. Not by me it won't, anyway. Because I can't say I really know exactly what happened, or why, or just how it began, how it ended, or if it has ended; and I've been right in the thick of it.” “There was — always — a special look in his eyes that meant he was remembering the wonderful quality of those days for him. Miles, that look, way in back of the eyes, is gone. With this — this Uncle Ira, or whoever or whatever he is, I have the feeling, the absolutely certain knowledge, Miles, that he's talking by rote.” “We're trapped by our own conceptions, Doctor, our necessarily limited notions of what life can be. Actually, we can't really conceive of anything very much different from ourselves, and whatever other life exists on this one little planet. Prove it yourself; what do imaginary men from Mars, in our comic strips and fiction, resemble? Think about it. They resemble grotesque versions of ourselves — we can't imagine anything different! Oh, they may have six legs, three arms, and antennae sprouting from their heads" — he smiled — "like insects we're familiar with. But they are nothing fundamentally different from what we know.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    ALLEN

    THE BODY SNATCHERS (the longer title came later) first appeared as a serial in the general-interest magazine COLLIER'S in 1954, then was published as a novel a year later. In 1956 the movie version appeared, the first of several. As a book, BODY SNATCHERS is more influential than outstanding in its prose and composition. When it first appeared, the mysterious "invading force" was seen as a metaphor for the depersonalization of Soviet Communism; two decades later for gentrification, as in the 197 THE BODY SNATCHERS (the longer title came later) first appeared as a serial in the general-interest magazine COLLIER'S in 1954, then was published as a novel a year later. In 1956 the movie version appeared, the first of several. As a book, BODY SNATCHERS is more influential than outstanding in its prose and composition. When it first appeared, the mysterious "invading force" was seen as a metaphor for the depersonalization of Soviet Communism; two decades later for gentrification, as in the 1978 movie remake set in San Francisco. It appears that our fears of losing our souls, our friendly neighbors and our communities are still easily invoked by Jack Finney's novel and easily transferred to whatever's going on in the world. In construction, the book's a tad clunky: the physician protagonist does not notice how his hometown Mill Valley's business district and through streets have been deteriorating until it is too late -- a process which would take probably a year in that climate, not a few weeks as in the novel. Inevitably, and routinely, a "professor" type (actually a lecturer in Botany) shows up to explain how pod-peopling could work. The 1956 movie is one of the rare adaptations that surpasses the print original, possibly because an off-screen narrator is a less intrusive technique than the first-person-limited perspective coming from the book's town doctor. Nonetheless I urge the reading of this novel for anyone who's interested. It's a quick but highly influential read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dirk Grobbelaar

    A pretty sinister book, this, containing some really creepy moments. It also happens to be written quite well, so, it goes without saying that I enjoyed it. Another forerunner of modern horror, The Body Snatchers, along with I Am Legend, pretty much set the stage for modern paranormal horror a la King, Koontz and co. Both of these books happen to be in the Science Fiction Masterworks series, as well. There is some oddball science in here, but come on! It was written in the fifties, and still carr A pretty sinister book, this, containing some really creepy moments. It also happens to be written quite well, so, it goes without saying that I enjoyed it. Another forerunner of modern horror, The Body Snatchers, along with I Am Legend, pretty much set the stage for modern paranormal horror a la King, Koontz and co. Both of these books happen to be in the Science Fiction Masterworks series, as well. There is some oddball science in here, but come on! It was written in the fifties, and still carries a hefty punch. A commentary on 50s politics? Who cares - it entertained me and scared the pants off me, so I just have to recommend it. Oh, and check out that scene with the skeletons...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This was an entertaining science fiction classic. The story is clearly "of it's time", but in a very enjoyable way. The female characterization are noticeably dated, but that didn't bother me. With little to no hard science or technical jargon, this is a very accessible scifi read with just a touch of horror. I would highly recommend this one.  4.0 Stars This was an entertaining science fiction classic. The story is clearly "of it's time", but in a very enjoyable way. The female characterization are noticeably dated, but that didn't bother me. With little to no hard science or technical jargon, this is a very accessible scifi read with just a touch of horror. I would highly recommend this one. 

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    Well, not so much to say about it.. Except that after having watched the film adaptation, I had this urgent need (not to go to the rest room) but to read the novel!! And I count myself lucky to have done so!!! I reckon that nearly almost everybody must have seen the film.. If not, shame on you!!! Remember these big eery seeds transforming into human beings?? Yes, exactly!!! jack Finneys novel has of course a double meaning, the term for this is multy-layered.. But my motto is: keep it simple idiot.. Anyw Well, not so much to say about it.. Except that after having watched the film adaptation, I had this urgent need (not to go to the rest room) but to read the novel!! And I count myself lucky to have done so!!! I reckon that nearly almost everybody must have seen the film.. If not, shame on you!!! Remember these big eery seeds transforming into human beings?? Yes, exactly!!! jack Finneys novel has of course a double meaning, the term for this is multy-layered.. But my motto is: keep it simple idiot.. Anyway "The Body Snatchers" is a well written and gripping scify novel.. A classic indeed!!! The film will leave you with a lot of unanswered questions, whereas the book offers believable and satisfactory answers!! In brief, a must-read for all scyfy suckers and lovers of creeping, shrewd, clever and crafty novels!! I had a great time reading this one.. For all what is worth, I'll give it my unrestricted recommendation to all my friends!! As always, happy readings.. Dean;)

  21. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    Some trove from the 50s and its brooding obsessions! First-rate immersion thanks to the dialogue which feels like one in some good ol' corny Hollywood script! :) Some trove from the 50s and its brooding obsessions! First-rate immersion thanks to the dialogue which feels like one in some good ol' corny Hollywood script! :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annelies

    A terrifying story about alien life that takes over human beings but with always a little sprankle of hope and perseverance that humankind can be saved. Suspenseful read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    4.5 rounded up. Perhaps I need to be reading more 50s fiction /sci fi? Added bonus as I live 20 min away from Mill Valley, the setting of our story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    Another great read from SF's past. I love this book (and admit part of that may be that it's from my youth and part of the reason I love SF today.)I'd say this one is not to be missed. Oh, and if you see a movie based on this book, see the 1956 (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) avoid the later one with Donald Southerland (Like you would life stealing alien pods). Another great read from SF's past. I love this book (and admit part of that may be that it's from my youth and part of the reason I love SF today.)I'd say this one is not to be missed. Oh, and if you see a movie based on this book, see the 1956 (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) avoid the later one with Donald Southerland (Like you would life stealing alien pods).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marianna Neal

    4.5 out of 5 stars Well, this was an unexpected gem of a sci-fi horror novel that actually aged pretty damn well! How come nobody ever talks about this one? Creepy, thought-provoking, and well-paced, not to mention realistic and compelling characters (I particularly loved Becky). Clearly, I need to look further into this "SF Masterworks" series because it's been working out for me. 4.5 out of 5 stars Well, this was an unexpected gem of a sci-fi horror novel that actually aged pretty damn well! How come nobody ever talks about this one? Creepy, thought-provoking, and well-paced, not to mention realistic and compelling characters (I particularly loved Becky). Clearly, I need to look further into this "SF Masterworks" series because it's been working out for me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    "We have met the enemy and he is us" Pogo (Walt Kelly) I have seen the original version of the movie and the 1977 version of the movie and let me tell you the book is actually scarier. This is a book about fear and apathy. The kind of fear where you are paralyzed with indecision, where you recognize your own insignificance in the world and where you recognize danger of some sort but are powerless to stop it. Apathy is in the actions of the main character. He is among the first to hear that people "We have met the enemy and he is us" Pogo (Walt Kelly) I have seen the original version of the movie and the 1977 version of the movie and let me tell you the book is actually scarier. This is a book about fear and apathy. The kind of fear where you are paralyzed with indecision, where you recognize your own insignificance in the world and where you recognize danger of some sort but are powerless to stop it. Apathy is in the actions of the main character. He is among the first to hear that people are changed and instead of really acting or investigating he merely passes the buck, recommends a specialist, goes on with his life. Even when confronted with undeniable proof of the invasion he leaves a couple to 'observe' while he heads back to his safe home far away. Our protagonists briefly leave town and come back and begin to notice how their town is falling apart, wearing out and not being repaired. But they had to leave to notice because the gradual decay was ignored. The book was originally written in the 1950s then the author updated it in 1978 to coincide with the remake of the movie. I found that disappointing and really would have resulted in a 1 star deduction; but that is completely cancelled out by the amazing introduction by Dean Koontz. And this book will having you checking under the bed for Pods

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    I love this story. In neither film nor book version is it perfect, but there's the kernel of something here that seems to me a modern archetype - something like Camus's The Plague but with the added intrigue that the plague in question is - or almost is - invisible. Add to this the nostalgic 50s Northern Californian small-town setting and the sense of a vanishing culture and you have something truly haunting. As to the book itself, it's workmanlike, well-crafted, warm-hearted and, though it empl I love this story. In neither film nor book version is it perfect, but there's the kernel of something here that seems to me a modern archetype - something like Camus's The Plague but with the added intrigue that the plague in question is - or almost is - invisible. Add to this the nostalgic 50s Northern Californian small-town setting and the sense of a vanishing culture and you have something truly haunting. As to the book itself, it's workmanlike, well-crafted, warm-hearted and, though it employs the same timewasting attention to trivial detail as most suspense novels, it never seems as though the author is simply playing for time. The first half, especially, is tight and satisfying. The ending, it's true, is terrible, and if I hadn't already seen the 50s film version I would have been pretty disappointed, but as it was I'd been imagining the brilliant end to that film repeatedly since I'd started the book, and I was easily able to substitute it in my memory when the time came. And strangely, even though I pretty much knew the story, something made me read the whole of this (200 pages) in a day, something I rarely do. But if I were an artist, painting the way Etta Street seemed to me... I'd paint the houses themselves as huddled and crouching, alien and withdrawn, resentful, evil, and full of icy malice against the two figures walking along the street between them. It's pulp, yeah, but ain't it funny how some pulp has come to seem priceless? (Take a look at the back cover blurb for the Library of America's hardback Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s by David Goodis: apparently this 'landmark volume... celebrates the full scope of Goodis' signature jazzy, expressionistic style'. A far cry from how he would have been marketed at the time!) What's the reason? These guys could drag you in, could ensconce you in their worlds. Atmosphere. The sense of something continually happening, of characters alive as we watch them, as we inhabit them, with the author hidden far back behind the action and not seeking to intrude. It's a skill that many in the mainstream 'literary' world do not seem to possess. This is storytelling from a golden age, not by a master, but by one of many conscientious workmen trying to give flesh to their ideas. And Finney's idea is a great one. The body snatchers, baby! It's chilling.

  28. 5 out of 5

    The Behrg

    “If we believe that we are just animals, without immortal souls, we are already but one step removed from pod people.” ― Jack Finney, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of the first "scary" films I can remember seeing in my youth. It's always been one of my favorites, from concept to story arc to not knowing 'who's good' or 'who's bad,' there's so much to enjoy here. As such, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to read the actual novel. First off, the writing i “If we believe that we are just animals, without immortal souls, we are already but one step removed from pod people.” ― Jack Finney, Invasion of the Body Snatchers Invasion of the Body Snatchers was one of the first "scary" films I can remember seeing in my youth. It's always been one of my favorites, from concept to story arc to not knowing 'who's good' or 'who's bad,' there's so much to enjoy here. As such, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to read the actual novel. First off, the writing in this novel felt contemporary. Finney's prose to the excellent characters he develops all play into a story that felt fresh and original, even though I've been familiar with it (and the many film reiterations) for years. There were a few parts which dated the book, but overall it didn't feel like something written in a different age. The pace of the book is almost perfect, unraveling the mystery a little at a time, but it really is the characters that carry this novel along. You want them to make it, to beat the overwhelming odds. The only thing I found disappointing was the ending. **SPOILER** If you're familiar with the Donald Sutherland movie, which in my opinion is the best, that ending is perfection. The novel seems to build towards that, carrying a hopelessness near the ending, but then drifts to a much-too-clean happy ending that felt jarring and forced. Maybe it was the times the book was written in, but for once in my life, I felt the movie version was far superior as far as the ending went. That being said, this was one of the most enjoyable reads I've read all year. Highly recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bill Lynas

    Over the years I think that I have seen every film version of this sci fi story and they range from the superb (1956 & 1978) to the good (1993) to the poor (2007). Finally I've read Jack Finney's original story & I am amazed at how great it turned out to be. The tension he creates is incredible & the dialogue between the characters pulls the reader into the story & makes an unbelievable situation seem very credible. What a classic. Over the years I think that I have seen every film version of this sci fi story and they range from the superb (1956 & 1978) to the good (1993) to the poor (2007). Finally I've read Jack Finney's original story & I am amazed at how great it turned out to be. The tension he creates is incredible & the dialogue between the characters pulls the reader into the story & makes an unbelievable situation seem very credible. What a classic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    ”’We called you, Miles, because you’re a doctor, but also because you’re a guy who can face facts. Even when the facts aren’t what they ought to be. You’re not a man to knock yourself out trying to talk black into white, just because it’s more comfortable. Things are what they are with you, as we have reason to know.’” Sounds like our protagonist, who is also the first-person narrator in this story, is quite an exceptional person in his readiness to face reality at all costs, even if this means s ”’We called you, Miles, because you’re a doctor, but also because you’re a guy who can face facts. Even when the facts aren’t what they ought to be. You’re not a man to knock yourself out trying to talk black into white, just because it’s more comfortable. Things are what they are with you, as we have reason to know.’” Sounds like our protagonist, who is also the first-person narrator in this story, is quite an exceptional person in his readiness to face reality at all costs, even if this means standing up against the majority of the people around him and becoming a pain in the ass to them as well as challenging his own long-cherished lines of thinking to make them adapt to new insight he has gained instead of forcing this new data to match in with preconceived notions. However, in the course of events described in Jack Finney’s inspiring novel The Body Snatchers, Dr. Miles Bennell often behaves half-heartedly and even frighteningly naively, which tones down the image of intellectual infallibility given to him in the quotation above. In fact, Miles is quite a homey small-town doctor, and he seems at least as interested in his youth-romance Becky Driscoll as in the strange events taking place in his Californian hometown Santa Mira. By choosing a rather everyday protagonist, instead of a superior hero who does not suffer from the qualms and the lack of determination that is all too well-known to us modest mortals (Hamlet included), Finney not only manages to increase the suspense with which we follow Miles and Becky’s desperate journey to their hometown, a place that is becoming less and less familiar to them, but he also makes the denouement, which is really pat and anti-climactic, more palatable, namely by implying that even everyday people, as long as they continue working for their ideals and trying to reach their aims, can make a difference. That may sound trite, but it definitely is a credo that keeps you from becoming disillusioned, passive and bitter. It is quite obvious that Finney’s novel was influenced by the anti-Communist mentality that was typical of the political climate of the U.S. and which begs the question as to who was worse off– people living under the McCarthyist Red Scare paranoia, or people who lived under the regime of criminals like Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot, i.e. people who got the real thing instead of just the paranoia. Be that as it may, Finney’s notion of the body snatchers – PKD had published a similar short story, The Father-Thing a few months before –, was so stimulating to people’s imagination that in 1956, it was made into a film by Don Siegel. Since then, there have been no less than three more silver screen versions. Apparently, there is something deeply unsettling about the notion of a silent invasion of shape-shifters replacing human beings in one’s immediate surroundings. Finney describes the pod-people as being unable to feel any real, deep emotions, and so they never really get angry or hateful when they face Miles’s resistance. However, they are no longer able to feel “[a]mbition, hope, excitement”. In fact, the town seems to be running to seed (if you pardon the pun) with the pod-people in charge, junk piling up in public places, lawns no longer being tended, shop-windows not being cleaned because nobody no longer really cares to go the extra mile. There is no individual effort, no competition but simply stagnancy, and this altercation between the psychologist Kaufman, who has become one of them, and our protagonist brings home the truth that maybe one should see a dignified human life as one of never-ending individual endeavour: ”’[…] It’s not bad, Miles, and I mean that. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet. And food still tastes good, books are still good to read –‘ ‘But not to write,’ I said quietly. ‘Not the labour, hope and struggle of writing them. Or feeling the emotions that make them. That’s all gone, isn’t it, Mannie?’” In a political sense, this might be read as an indictment of Communism from a Western and individualist point of view, but the pod-people might also stand for something else. Just see what Don Siegel, the director of the first Body Snatcher movie had got to say about it: ”[…] I felt that this was a very important story. I think that the world is populated by pods and I wanted to show them. I think so many people have no feeling about cultural things, no feeling of pain, of sorrow. […]” Well, but as long as the food still tastes good, hey? Another thing that struck me is the protagonist’s obsession with the outward appearance of things. At first, I thought this was simply due to Jack Finney’s being probably a bad writer, [1] as in a passage like this, which suddenly interrupts the narration in the first chapter: ”Just to get the record straight: my full name is Miles Boise Bennell, I’m twenty-eight years old, and I’ve been practising medicine in Santa Mira, California, for just over a year. Before that I interned, and before that, Stanford Medical College. I was born and raised in Santa Mira, and my father was a doctor here before me, and a good one, so I haven’t had too much trouble snaring customers. I’m five feet eleven inches tall, weigh one-sixty-five, have blue eyes, and black, kind of waxy hair, pretty thick […]” And he goes on describing himself, mentioning his suntan, his hobbies, his car and other biographic detail. When reading these paragraphs the first time, I thought that Finney was a very clumsy writer but after a while I realized that this was probably done on purpose to make a comment on the superficiality and shallow views of modern society, which clearly goes by what can be seen. Our narrator likewise dwells on Becky Driscoll’s physical assets quite a lot, which is partly explicable when you consider that both his heart and his hormones may be enthralled by the bonnie lass, but which nevertheless fits in with the general picture of appearances being taken for the substance of things. Later on, Miles learns that keeping up appearances is a game that may both made and unmake a society, for example when he tells the librarian, Miss Wyandotte, “’I know you […] I know what you are’”, making the pod-lady drop her mask for an instant. When he witnesses how the pod-people mimic real behaviour of the neighbours and friends he was familiar with, putting an edge of scorn into their mimicry, he feels reminded of a shoeshine boy he once knew and who used to behave in a way that earned him the reputation of being quite a character, at the same time imbuing his customers with a sense of their own affability and generosity. When one night, Miles was given the opportunity to see behind the façade of this shoeshine boy and to witness all the bitterness and scorn hidden there, he was quite rattled at seeing grossly belied what he had been pleased to believe in. So, after all, if the pod-Uncle Ira mimics friendliness and good humour, does this not mean that the original Uncle Ira might have been doing the same thing? And why is the botanist Budlong behaving like a professor – because people expect it from him, or because his being a professor makes him behave like one? Some food for thought for Dr. Bennell, who is so obsessed with biographic detail and the minute description of outward appearances. There were some more things I was going to write about – e.g. the parallels between the parasitic pod-creatures and human beings who exploit and change the world they are inhabiting – but seeing my review already getting longer than I intended it to be, I will keep them for a rainy day. A metaphorical one, seeing that it is, indeed, raining outside while I am writing this. The only problem I have with this interesting novel is its ending: (view spoiler)[Surely, a life form that has existed for so long and is apparently so well-organized would be unlikely to feel discouraged at resistance on the part of those that are to be invaded and replaced, even though that resistance might become rather ugly and tooth-and-nail. If those pods are so ready to give in, they couldn’t be around for long – just imagine them ever meeting Klingons. Another thing that made me feel a bit irritated was when those pods suddenly start to hover and then fly into space, defying all natural laws and showing too obviously that Finney was at the end of this tether as to how else to get rid of them. (hide spoiler)] All in all, I’d rate this 3.5, rounding it up because of the fun I had for most of the novel. [1] Let me just note that being a bad writer and being an imaginative writer are not incompatible, as little as being a good writer and lacking imagination. I’d say that Charles Brockden Brown’s novels are brimming with fascinating ideas, and yet he is such a bad writer that reading his prose is like living in a world entirely made of sand-paper imprinted with the poetry of Walt Whitman.

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