Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When the tripods came

When the tripods came

John Christopher
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2003   ISBN: 978-0689857621

Laurie and his friend Andy are on an orienteering expedition on the moor. Having taken a wrong turn during their hike, they are forced to face the prospect of having to spend the night on the moor. Luckily they come across a barn, and they have a somewhat sheltered place to spend the night. The boys are woken up in the early hours of the morning by some strange sounds, and when they take a look outside they see an enormous three legged metal machine standing over the farm. Right before their eyes the machine proceeds to destroy the farm house and all the living things inside it. Thankfully, the military arrive on the scene before the machine can start on the barn, and soon enough the huge and terrifying machine is little more than a pile of smoking metal.

Laurie learns that the machine that he saw was one of three "Tripods" which have landed on earth. All three were destroyed and people imagine that the whole episode is over. But it is not. A new T.V program comes out called the "Trippy Show," which is all about Tripods. People all over the world get hooked on the program, literally. It would appear that the show is having some kind of hypnotic effect on them, and they are becoming Tripod fanatics. It is not long before a kind of war is being waged between the "Trippers" and people who have not been affected by the Tripod brainwashing. Matters get even worse when the Trippers start putting special "caps" on people, which truly deprive the wearer of individual thought.

Desperate to avoid being "capped" Laurie, Andy, and Laurie's family try to find a place where they will be safe; someplace untouched by the poisonous influence of the Tripods.

Science fiction fans will be enthralled by this first Tripod title. Readers will get to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where most of the people do not have the ability to think and act for themselves. The author builds up his story with great skill, giving readers a false sense of security until they come to realize that something very insidious is going on. The story ends at a point that will have readers asking "but what happens next?" Thankfully, more books follow this one, and the story continues in "The White Mountains," "The City of Gold and Lead," and "The pool of fire."