Wednesday 8 May 2019

WEB by John Wyndham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This slim book was sitting in a basket marked FREE outside a local thrift store, with a bunch of other random titles. It also seems to have lived as a high school library book in its former life, and has now become another book I've read and thoroughly enjoyed.

When a millionaire English lord buys a remote Pacific island with the hopes of forming a new, utopian society, an assorted group of people is chosen to set sail and get things started.

But the island of Tanakuatua might not be as uninhabited as first assumed, and any plans to start a new kind of society quickly becomes impossible when they discover the eight-legged population...

With a name like Web, of course this was going to be about spiders. Dangerous spiders. A multitude of them. Yeah, if you have arachnophobia this is probably not the best book for you to read.

Anyway, the story isn't too long but it's a nice and detailed one. The narrator, Arnold Delgrange, has recently gone through a family tragedy, so he decides to sign up for this interesting expedition. It gives him something to do, and he has the chance to meet other people.

I really enjoyed the way he tells the story. Arnold (social historian) has a strong and interesting voice that drew me in and kept me reading. Every detail he reveals is relevant to the overall plot and is dripping with a sense of doom. Of course you know right away that something bad happens.

I mean, it's just like a couple of rich white guys to buy an uninhabited island they believe THEY can turn into some fantastical utopian society. Without considering there could be natives. Never once checking to see what animals or creepy-crawlies are about. Simply turn up with equipment to clear land, build on it and take ownership. 😒

It was interesting to read about the underlining social commentary that is (unfortunately) still relevant today.

Another character I really liked was Camilla Cogent (biologist), who is first described as "a lonely figure—there, but not with us" and soon becomes one of the smartest people in the group. There's a reason why she always seems lost in thought. I loved the observations she makes when they arrive on the dreaded island.

I enjoyed this little adventure tale about a group of people silly enough to think they can create and shape a new world order without first researching who lives on the island they're so keen to invade. It was fun!

Oh, and this edition even has full-page illustrations.

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