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Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack…

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original 1955; edition 1998)

by Jack Finney

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1,1505811,172 (3.81)91
Plant-like extraterrestrials have invaded Santa Mira, a small town in California, replicating the villagers in giant seed "pods" and taking possession of their souls while they sleep. In a terrifying race, for his life, Dr. Bennell escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people.
Title:Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Authors:Jack Finney
Info:Touchstone (1998), Edition: 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Classic science fiction

Work details

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (1955)

Recently added byRobert_Musil, JDR7, majackson, pamelad, bunnykaiju, BGP, mabith, sallypursell, private library, baswood
  1. 20
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    LamontCranston: 'Salems Lot is a better recommendation than The Tommyknockers for it is as much about the death of the town as it is the slow take over.
  2. 42
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    jseger9000: Another book that deals with a sinister alien force that slowly possesses a small town.
  3. 10
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    The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
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English (52)  Italian (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
The Body Snatchers - Jack FInney
Published in 1955 and now in the sci-fi Masterwork Series; The Body Snatchers is a title more famous for the number of film versions (four at the last count). It is certain that more people will have seen a film version than will have read the novel and so readers like me will probably be approaching the book already knowing much of the story, however they may well be surprised by this tightly written little novel. Much like H G Wells' novel War of the worlds which had a distinctly provincial feel despite it's title (the action takes place in rural suburbs outside London); the Body Snatchers is confined to small town America and although the story has global implications they are not explored in the novel.

There is enough background to the story to make this more than just a plot driven science fiction caper. There are no super-heroes or even heroes, just a small town doctor faced with some extraordinary events that he cannot explain which seem to be changing the people with whom he lives and works. Miles is recently divorced and the events in the town bring him into the company of Becky a friend from his school days and a love story develops. Although the story does eventually lead to a couple against the rest of the world scenario, the rest of the world is the town of Santa Mira
and so Finney is still able to keep his story well grounded with some keen observations about life in the town. This observation about the lack human activity in his town leads Miles to feel very uneasy about his situation.

"We might have been on a finished stage set, completed to the last nail and final stroke of a brush. You can't walk ten blocks on an ordinary street inhabited by human beings, without seeing evidence of say, a garage being built. a new cement sidewalk being laid, a yard being spaded, a picture window being installed - at least some little signs of the endless urge to change and improve that marks the human race"

Finney also finds the space to observe through Miles how a black shoe shine boy (Billy) can occasionally let the bitterness come through at the condescending way he is treated by the white folks which makes Miles despair of the human race. This is however a story about the strength and qualities of some human beings who are prepared to fight for their way of life, even when others appear to have given up. It is a good subject for a movie and Finney provides a good dose of mystery and suspense leading up to the denouement, and even though you might know what that is; there is still much to be gained from reading this novel. Characters are well drawn and there is something consoling when reading through a familiar plot line just to see how it all works out in the novel. A four star read for me. ( )
1 vote baswood | Dec 3, 2019 |
This is my first book by Jack Finney. I now see why it is praised and why there have been several versions of films based on this short novel. It's a tight fast story that slowly begins to build from the first chapter. Fun read which I didn't want to put down.

Now I'll have to read his other works. It will be hard to top this one. ( )
  ikeman100 | Jul 7, 2019 |
A patient of Dr. Miles Bennell comes to him worried about her father. Something about him just doesn't seem right, and she's convinced it's not really him. Then others start coming to him with the same story. But when another friend, Jack Belicec, shows him a body in his basement, a body that looks just like Jack except not fully developed, he's stumbled upon an alien invasion.

The story itself isn't really as scary as that sounds, and while it was sorta enjoyable to read, it kinda fell flat for me as a Halloween read this year. Originally written in 1955, it's got plenty of overwrought melodrama and even has the aliens monologuing at one point, which gives it a very dated feel. I was hoping for something as good as The Day of the Triffids, and while this book nails a lot of basic human emotions pretty well, the smaller scale of the story just doesn't reflect the same social importance and questions that one had. ( )
  J.Green | Mar 15, 2019 |
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of my favorite classic science fiction films. I have seen the original 1956 version dozens of times over the years, as well as the 1978 remake. But until now I had never read Jack Finney's novel on which the movies were based.

Although the characters were familiar, and many of the scenes in the book were recognizable. I enjoyed Finney's tale, which holds up quite well after 60 years, and still found the story suspenseful.

A popular opinion of the book and film is that they reflect the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era. In his preface to this 60th anniversary edition, Dean Koontz considers this a superficial assessment. He sees it more in terms of a loss of humanity brought about by the rapid technological advances of the last few decades.

"In the twenty-first century, so many powerful forces have reshaped society so rapidly, compared to the more measured pace of change in previous centuries, that it's no surprise when we feel besieged and in danger of losing our humanity."

Early in the book, the protagonist, Dr Miles Bennell, also bemoans this loss of humanity when he reflects on the replacement of live telephone operators with automation.

"In my father's day a night operator, whose name he'd have known, could have told him who'd called...But now we have dial phones, marvelously efficient, saving you a full second or more every time you call, inhumanly perfect, and utterly brainless; and none of them will ever remember where the doctor is at night, when a child is sick and needs him. Sometimes I thing we're refining all humanity our of our lives."

A worthwhile read, and if you have seen the movie(s) an unexpected ending. ( )
  quietman66 | Mar 6, 2019 |
I'd grown up here, from boyhood I'd known every street, house and path, most of the backyards, and every hill, field and road for miles around.
And now I didn't know it any more. Unchanged to the eye, what I was seeing out there now - in my eye, and beyond that in my mind — was something alien. The lighted circle of pavement below me, the familiar front porches, and the dark mass of houses and town beyond them — were fearful. Now they were menacing, all these familiar things and faces; the town had changed or was changing into something very terrible, and was after me. It wanted me, too, and I knew it.

I don't think I've ever seen any of the film versions of "Invasion of the body snatchers", but this is the original novel, set in 1953 and published in 1955. I like how the prejudices of the time actually come in handy when fighting the body snatchers, and I loved the downbeat ending, as the remaining aliens gradually die off and are replaced by newcomers as the town of Santa Mira slowly comes back to life. ( )
  isabelx | Feb 18, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Finneyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Tabori, KristofferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, George K.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I warn you that what you're starting to read is full of loose ends and unanswered questions.
For me it began around six o'clock, a Thursday evening, October 28, 1976, when I let my last patient - a sprained thumb - out the side door of my office, with the feeling the day wasn't over for me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
A shorter version of this work originally appeared in Collier's magazine and an expanded edition was first published in 1955 under the title 'The Body Snatchers'.  This is a revised and updated edition; to tie-in with the 1978 film version.
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Book description

The people in Santa Mira didn't feel at all. One by one, they were being transformed into men and women totally devoid of human emotion. Men and women who looked like themselves, acted like themselves, but were not themselves.

There was no comprehending the steadily increasing horror, it went beyond the scope of human experience - and there seemed no stopping it ...


"Doctor, this is going to sound crazy, but I'm convinced my wife isn't my wife. The woman I'm living with looks like my wife, talks like her, even acts like her, but I know she isn't my wife,"

Within a week, eight more frightened, confused patients told Dr Miles Bennell the same story, He didn't believe it.

Until, one night, he realized that something strange and horrible was lying all around his town, hidden in secret places.

It wanted him, too, and he knew it.
Haiku summary
Pods from outer space
Make duplicates of people
To conquer the world.

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