BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Small-town doctor stumbles on an alien invasion in which the aliens assume the form of people.
PROS: Fun story; quick read; entertaining and well-written.
CONS: Characters slow to react and sometimes do inexplicable things.
BOTTOM LINE: A quick enjoyable read.
In Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, small-town doctor Miles Bennell is visited by patients who notice that something, they’re not quite sure what, is wrong with their loved ones. When Becky, an old flame, visits with the same observation about her father, Miles investigates. Soon, a friend of his comes to him with not only the same complaint, but proof in the form of a still-growing human being born out of a giant pod. They’re heeeeere!
This book was first published in 1955 and has that classic feel usually found in books of that time. It’s not the guns-blazing, Independence Day type of invasion that most modern sf portrays. And it’s not the bug-eyed monster sf of fifties movies. Instead, it’s a bit of a pot-boiler. Miles disbelieves that anything is wrong for quite some time and dismisses the complaints as mass-psychoses – even when he himself has seen the proof. (I found that a bit odd.) When he does realize that something is going on, he seems to delay in getting outside help and leaving town. When he does leave the town, he actually goes back (!) and is then trapped.
Still, the story is entertaining. The writing is excellent; very casual and conversational. Finney does an excellent job portraying both the characters and the town. It’s a quick enjoyable read.
I should mention the 3 movie adaptations. Over 20 years ago I remember seeing only the ending of the original 1956 adaptation. I have seen the 1978 version (with Leonard Nimoy in a supporting role) back in the 80’s and remember liking it. That last scene with the screeching Donald Sutherland still creeps me out in my dreams. I wonder if he used it with Kiefer to keep him in line. I also remember that the ending between those 2 movies were different. I completely forgot about the 1993 version until IMDB reminded me. I wouldn’t mind seeing one (or all) of the versions again, now that I have read the book.