Saturday, January 07, 2006

Horror Book Review: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

What a fantastic movie! (Either version)

What a mediocre book. Now I don’t find Jack Finney, the author, a bad writer - it’s just that something is not right with the edition I read.

And after I finished it and perused the inner cover text, I think I know the reason why.

You see, this story was originally written in a shorter version back in 1954 for Collier’s magazine. A year later it was "fleshed" out and expanded and published as a novel. And the version I read even says it has been "revised and updated" as well.

Hmm. Not a good choice I’m thinking. I found the middle part of this horror tale drawn out and repetitive. And now I see why.

Other sections, I am assuming they were part of the short version, are tight and tense, better written and paced, and move the story forward.

I suppose if I really wanted to go hunting I could dredge up the short version to compare, but I didn’t, so you will have to live with the review of the longer "revised and updated novel" version.

An quiet invasion from outer space is transforming life in Mill Valley. People are literally being replaced with exact (well almost) duplicates of themselves. And pods - you just gotta love alien space pods. Overall a creepy idea with some great horror elements. This is a classic fifties science fiction if ever there was such a thing.

And Finney’s idea was so cool it was made into two different movies (that I know of), and worked very well on the big screen with some changes, of course. The book has a different ending from its screen adaptations, and that is part of my overall disappointment of this novel.

I know it’s not fair, but the way I see it I never did read the "original" short version so can’t make a good judgement here vs the movies. Still, in my mind, the movies were better than this novel.

I’m not going to spoil it though, and tell you the differences.

If I were awarding stars, out of five, in my reviews, this one would rank about a three max. It just didn’t quite work for me, and some of the character logic was painful to believe and utterly stupid in the extreme. But, that aside, creep factor of the idea alone coupled with some well done passages make it actually worth the read.

I would suggest you find and read the "short" version though. But if you can’t get it, then slog your way through the longer work (only 219 pages after all) but expect repetition (kinda like this review...)

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