The first thing I noticed as I was going through this book was that it’s obviously inspired a bunch of other works. I think I was still in the first chapter when I started noticing similarities to movies like 28 Days Later, and within the first few chapters I saw that this book is what The Happening was striving to be. I also realized very quickly why those movies emulated the book. It’s really good.
The tension in the book is wonderfully timed. From the opening scene in the hospital to the final scene in the book, every conflict is suspenseful and engaging. The pace ebbs and flows very naturally, but never gets dull. The story is solid and gives enough detail to answer questions, but withholds enough to keep the mystery alive.
The characters are also very good, though pretty dated. It was fairly obvious that the book was from the 50s, even without all the references to the recency of World War 2. It did get a little distracting that so many of the characters fell into the stereotypical gender roles of the time period, but at the same time, the book addresses the necessity to change customs to fit the circumstances, and that discussion was enhanced by playing off of those stereotypes. It was a remarkable balance.
The most impressive part of the book, for me, was not in the actual writing, but in the cultural relevancy of the book. As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few tropes that seem to have their origin in this book. I knew that it was a classic when I started reading it, but I didn’t know why. After finishing the book, I can see that it’s still used as the standard for a lot of plot devices.
This was a wonderful book, and may be one that I read again regularly.