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The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

The Body Snatchers (1955)

by Jack Finney

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Urania collezione (004)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1045511,334 (3.82)87
  1. 20
    Salem's Lot by Stephen King (LamontCranston)
    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
    The Tommyknockers by Stephen King (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Another book that deals with a sinister alien force that slowly possesses a small town.
  3. 10
    The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Automatons in an idyllic setting.
  4. 10
    Night of the Living Dead by John Russo (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Alienating apocalypse
  5. 00
    The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson (sturlington)
    sturlington: classic '50s sci-fi
  6. 00
    The Sand Men by Christopher Fowler (ShelfMonkey)

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» See also 87 mentions

English (49)  Italian (2)  Danish (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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 |
Good opening paragraph! And then, this sentence to start the second - “For me it all 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.” Dun, dun, dun... And it takes place in Mill Valley, a town just a dozen or so miles from where I live! Dun, dun, dun...

Mill Valley, Strawberry, San Rafael, Corte Madera, Marin General Hospital, the Sequoia theater - all locations that are too close to where I live to make this a comfortable read for me! (I’m in Novato!) And when they do the roll call of Marin County towns in Chapter 15, well that just sealed the creepiness right up tight for me, even though Novato isn’t specifically mentioned.

The writing is a bit stiff, or formal feeling, for me, but the plot is good! I mean, this is a classic - the Pod People for Pete's sake! Miles is kind of an accidental heroic figure, and a pretty scattered one at that, but he does battle hard, both to stay awake and to get rid of the invaders!

Still, I’m gonna get me one of them blue-and-yellow Mill Valley Bargain Jubilee buttons... just in case... ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 1, 2019 |

The Body Snatchers - What a extraordinary reading experience. Much of the fascination in turning the pages derives from the reader knowing this is a novel of science fiction - watching as the men and women eventually discover the body snatchers are aliens from outer space, hardly a give away as even the movie and more recent publications of the book carry the title Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The eerie atmosphere is established within the very first pages when the narrator, Dr. Miles Bennell, shares his recent encounters with a number of patients all living in the small town of Mill Valley, California. First, there's Becky Driscoll who tells him her Cousin Wilma thinks her Uncle Ira is an impostor. Becky persuades Miles to investigate immediately and they both drive to the house of Ira Lentz in Miles' 1973 Mercedes two-seater (Jack Finney's novel was published in 1955, thus The Body Snatchers is near-future sf).

Miles pulls up and sees Uncle Ira out on his lawn, the same Mr. Lentz he has known since delivering papers as a kid. After exchanging a few words, Miles reflects: "Hell, it was Uncle Ira, every hair, every line of his face, every word, movement, and thought, and I felt like a fool."

Although Wilma acknowledges Uncle Ira looks and speaks like Ira, has all the memories and observations of Ira, she KNOWS he's not her Uncle Ira. Miles asks if she has spoken to her Aunt Aleda, since, after all, Aleda would certainly detect any difference in her husband. Wilma shakes her head 'no' and says between tears, almost on the point of hysteria: "Because - Miles - she's not my Aunt Aleda, either!"

Miles admits that all this is well beyond his professional capacity as a general practitioner of medicine and recommends Wilma see a psychiatrist he knows and thereafter takes his leave. Alarming to be sure since, after all, Wilma is an otherwise levelheaded woman. And over the course of the next week, even more reason for alarm: more patients report a variation of Wilma's story.

Then it happens: Miles' friend Jack Belicec, a writer of fiction, grabs Miles on evening as the doctor and Becky are watching a film at the local movie house. Jack tells Miles he has something to show him back at his house, something much more interesting than any film. They drive out and walk down to Jack's basement. They don't have to walk far before they all peer down. And there it is. Now the alarm bells really start ringing.

What makes The Body Snatchers such a riveting story is Miles’ every single step, his every encounter and exchange is charged with suspense, make that supercharged with suspense. Psychological theories are expounded, newspaper reports consulted, telephone calls made, but, damn it, there comes a point where reason can go just so far. What the hell is going on here?

Jack Finney's novel is also a snapshot of 1950s small town American - many are the allusions made to the times when Miles was growing up, visiting the local library, dating Becky in high school, seeing all the familiar faces around town. But, now, as Miles and Becky walk down Mill Valley's main street, they can see the entire town is altered, nearly dead - rarely do they see anybody outside and all the trash and litter scattered about makes for one dirty, grubby Mill Valley.

The lack of warmth Miles feels from people reminds him of one particular poignant memory, back years ago when he overheard the always friendly Billy the shoeshine boy: ""That's all I want, Colonel, just to handle people's shoes. Le'me kiss 'em! Please le'me kiss your feet." The pent-up bitterness of years tainted every word and syllable he spoke. And them, for a full minute perhaps, standing there on the sidewalk of the slum he lived in, Billy went on with this quietly hysterical parody of himself." No doubt about it, Miles broods, all the warmth he might feel from these Mill Valley people here and now is nothing but a façade.

As we discover toward the end of the book, The Body Snatchers is also a tale of the hero’s journey, a journey requiring great courage and wits. Fortunately for Dr. Miles Bennell, he has his once old flame, now new flame, beautiful, resourceful Becky right by his side. An outstanding, highly original novel not to be missed.

American author Jack Finney, 1911-1995

“Relationship building at a distance, through the filter of a computer, is ultimately ineffective for the sincere friend seeker, but it is ideally suited to the sociopath whose powers of manipulation are enhanced when he can operate not merely behind his usual masks but behind an electronic mask as well.”
― Jack Finney, The Body Snatchers
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
This is the book the famous movie was based on, and is a great concept, but I was initially disappointed in the quality of writing. It did improve though, and wasn't a bad read overall. ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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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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First words
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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Wikipedia in English


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.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684852586, Paperback)

On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved -- the world as he knew it.

First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired three major motion pictures.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:05 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

On the surface, everything in Mill Valley appeared the same to Dr. Miles Bennell, but some mysterious force is changing the town and killing it slowly.

» see all 4 descriptions

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