This classic 1955 thriller of the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired the acclaimed 1956 film, directed by Don Siegel and named one of Time magazine's 100 Best Films. Blackstone's edition is read by Don Siegel's son, actor-director Kristoffer Tabori, an Emmy and Audie Award winner, and concludes with the narrator's insider reminiscences of his father's work on the film.
©1955, 1983 Jack Finney; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
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Very fun and exciting read. It really does "grab hold of you" from the beginning and doesnt let go. Jack Finney is an amazing writer, and it almost seems like such a "campy" horror story is beneath his skills, but it just works so well. It's fast paced and thrilling, but it also has that 50's "black and white detective story" flare to it.
This is a fun and easy listen... the production was good and the narration was especially well done. The reader does a great job capturing the mood of the characters....something that might be lost in a straight read.
"A Compact, Scary, Philosophical SF Horror Tale"
When I was a boy driving somewhere with my father I sometimes tormented myself by wondering, ???What if he???s not my Dad? What if he???s a stranger who only looks like him???? Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney hair-raisingly exploits such moments of doubt. Finney steadily raises the Creepiness Quotient of his tale the farther we get into it, playing with our inability to ever really know another person. At the same time, his novel features an appealing romance, interesting questions of perception, and disturbing implications of the instinct for survival???as well as a clever use of a set of his and her skeletons. Compared to the movie versions, the ending of the novel is a little unconvincing but finally satisfying.
The reader, Kristopher Tabori, does a fine job. I haven???t heard a voice quite like his before in the many audiobooks to which I???ve listened: deep, gravelly, a little nasal, and full of wit and character and flavor. And he changes his voice just enough to draw out the different personalities of the different characters to enhance rather than distract from the story.
As an added bonus, the novel is followed by a short interesting interview with Tabori, the son of Don Siegel, who directed the original movie version. Tabori reveals that his father said that he was not thinking of McCarthy-ism or Communism when making the movie adaptation of the novel and was just trying to make a scary movie. One of the virtues of the novel is that it is open to different interpretations, all the while being a scary story featuring appealing normal people caught in an abnormal nightmare, doing their best to survive it with their humanity intact.
Do not start this audiobook unless you have 6hrs free to sit and listen! You'll be snagged in the first 5 minutes and it won't let you go. Finney's writing style is fluid and captivating. The narrator must also be commended...phenomenal job! My favorite audiobook thus far.
"What a Campy, Fun, Thrilling Treat!"
(I laughed so hard at Jefferson wondering if his dad was...??still his dad!?) We used to do the same thing after we saw the 1978 version. Probably one of the most horrifying moments in any thriller...when Veronica Cartwright approaches Donald Sutherland and he drops his jaw and releases that skin-prickling screech, then points that accusing finger at her. I get chills just writing about that scene, remembering how many nights I'd check the closet before getting into bed. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is definitely a cult classic; originally serialized in Colliers Magazine in 1954, and "adapted for the screen four times; the first film in 1956, the second in 1978, the third in 1993, and the most recent in 2007." [Wiki] ( I think there are a few pod people still vying for a place on both the Democratic and Republican Presidential tickets.)
Well, be prepared because that's not exactly how Finney's critically acclaimed retro read actually ends! But, you'll have to listen to find out the fate of Mill Valley -- and it's a whole different and highly entertaining story. His real-time read is fast-paced terror excellently narrated to match the mood. This one will have you wishing you could pull up to a drive-in again, stretch the clunky speaker to your door, grab a cardboard pizza and a tub of popcorn, then snuggle up next to someone and wait for the dancing treats to march across the screen to finally see the gelatinous foggy globs forming on a different planet, then floating off into space, the camera focuses on the planet Earth. (I think Spielberg must have liked that beginning, so similar to how he would go on to begin War of the Worlds).
Really fun with just enough scares to keep it from being totally campy. Highly recommend.
While writing this review, I would be amiss to not mention Heinlein’s “Puppet Master’s” which preceded it, or the 3 direct interpretations that followed it in the late 50’s, 70’s and 90’s. Not to mention the uncountable knockoff’s, the good and bad, and homage’s that this book and the aforementioned titles, inspired. They gave voice to a growing paranoia that was beginning to be understood in the 50’s with the cold war heating up. It asked such questions as, can you trust your neighbor? Can you trust your family and friends? Are they who they say they are? Are YOU who you say you are? Deeper than McCarthyism and the Red Scare, in spite of itself or with full intention, this pulp novel dug its heels into its subject matter and tackled such ideas the only way good sci-fi can, through speculation.
In listening to 6 plus hours straight through I was impressed with this overall. There are minor quibbles that must be mentioned, that it does have some weaker moments and may drag a little. It must also be said this was published in 1955 and is dated a bit, in tone, (the same can be said of "War of the Worlds" for example). One must expect that. The characters can be seen as being 1 dimensional and the main character makes leaps in logic that make little sense, or the opposite and not putting 2 and 2 together faster. These are very minor narrative criticisms, despite these, the novel flows well and has a surprisingly fast pace to it. The Narrator also is spot on and keeps your attention riveted. A very minor complaint is that he can, momentarily, be “overenthusiastic” and can be quite excitable, but still a very good narration.
I would recommend this as a paranoia suspense sci-fi thriller and a study of the Pulp 1950’s era that is still with us today and just as relevant but keep in mind the minor flaws
Enjoyable listen overall.
"Not what I expected, more sociological than horror"
I have seen two of the movie versions of this book, and still there was an element to it that I didn't expect........Even though the author always claimed he had no political message in the book, I definitely heard more of it in the book than I ever saw in the movies.
This version is more psychological horror and suspense than it is about a physical monstrosity - the "pod people" are physical duplicates, not any abhorrent visualized mess. They are not filled with inhuman rage, they don't eat living flesh, they don't make blood sacrifices. Visually it's a creepily calm but otherwise normal-looking situation. But, what Finney seems to mention again and again, the "pod people" (for lack of a better term) seem devoid of the human emotions, including the emotions that make people want to improve and change things. The real fear of changing is that the changed become stagnant emotionally and psychologically, doing only what is necessary but nothing that is desired since - without emotions - nothing is desired.
To me, that's more than a "good read" as Finney said was his goal, that's a small-p political statement about the state of humanity.
Yes, it's a sci fi thriller with good pacing, heroic characters, and a ticking clock of impending doom. But it's more than that, and not really what I'd expected.
"The Pod People"
An excellent Sci-Fi Horror. It is amazing how scary a writer can get without gore, very little violence, no sex and no swearing. I am not a prude, I love sex and violence, just surprised, how much can be accomplished without these old stand-bys. I thought it was funny when the main character complained about the fast new society, with its new fangled inventions like dial phones. This is a masterpiece, don't let the time it was written hold you back. At least three movies have been made from this and they are good, but the book is also good. This has to be one of the more imaginative invasions every written.
Narrator is excellent.
"As good, maybe better, than the 1978 film"
I saw the 1978 version of this film when I was in my formative teen years. It scared the bejebus out of me. I have since seen both other versions of it (the original was too sedate and the remake had characters that were too bimbo-y).
This is the first time I've read the original story and I have to say that I think I like it better than even my favorite film version. The narration was very good.
The only negative thing I have to say about it is that it was a little bit moralizing - i.e. the "moral" of the story, hidden in alien effigies, was the withering-away of small town U.S.A. complete with people losing their humanity in the face of progress, etc... and it was none too subtle. I loved it as an alien-invasion end of the world type book, I didn't like it as a commentary on modernization.
"Stunning new relevance."
As I listened to this delightful, highly-entertaining science fiction thriller, it struck me how this 1955 story has suddenly taken on stunning new relevance after 9-11. The Communists of the Cold War era have been replaced by Muslim extremists, as America has tightened its borders and turned inward, seeking out hidden "sleeper cells" among us. This novel is about an insidious infiltration of our cherished way of life by a cold, calculating alien menace that sprang up among us without warning. A highly recommended read from the author of Time and Again, another fabulous sci-fi novel.
"Much better than I'd expected"
I wasn't too sure about this book at first... I'd seen bits and pieces of the movie and thought if it was anything like that I probably wouldn't like it. But I took a chance and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The book hooks you from the very first sentence and wraps you in a blanket of mystery. It was very hard to put this one down and I recommend it to any and everyone.
"Classic story told well."
The production values are all that let this book down which is a shame as the performance is great. The dates are altered to move the story into the seventies but when you hear it you can't help but be in 1950s America. The ending of the book is different from the filmic endings I have seen and perhaps not as strong but all the sense of dread and abnormalities hidden amongst the everyday is here. Well worth a listen.
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