Title: The White Mountains.
Author: John Christopher.
Genre: Fiction, YA, adventure, dystopia, science fiction, futuristic fiction.
Publication Date: 1967.
Summary: Will Parker never dreamed he would be the one to rebel against the Tripods. With the approach of his thirteenth birthday, he expected to attend his Capping ceremony as planned and to become connected to the Tripods — huge three-legged machines — that now control all of Earth. But after an encounter with a strange homeless man called Beanpole, Will sets out for the White Mountains, where people are said to be free from the control of the Tripods. But even with the help of Beanpole and his friends, the journey is long and hard. And with the Tripods hunting for anyone who tries to break free, Will must reach the White Mountains fast. But the longer he’s away from his home, the more the Tripods look for him, and no one can hide from the monstrous machines forever.
My rating: 8/10
My review: This was the first novel I ever read in English (as a part of a Grade 7 ESL class), so I will always have a big soft spot for it in my heart. I loved it then and now, more objectively, I still believe it to be a very solid YA title. The prose is clean and simple, with the advantage of a slightly more complex language than you would find in books of this nature published now. I'm not the biggest fan of alien books, but I liked the dystopian feel of this universe - the "free will" lost at puberty, and the sentience vs. comfort debate that is so reminiscent of The Time Machine (one of my favourites in the genre). I also quite enjoy stories that have protagonists traveling through isolated landscapes - this isolated landscape being a post-apocalyptic view of our own world was very compelling, especially viewed from the point of view of someone raised in a pre-industrial type of society. The Tripods themselves were a very interesting antagonist. Mysterious, menacing, and seen from afar for most of the novel, they really convey very well the nervous terror of the protagonists to the readers, as they see the Tripods always creeping off in the distance, without a clear understanding of their capacities, real natures, or limitations. Finally, the motif of dissent, questioning authority and valuing freedom to ask questions and make choices is very well laid out, especially for a younger audience, for whom it is so important to grasp these concepts early on but also have a clear distinction between due freedom and empty rebellion against the parent-authority. All in all, I think this is a very good adventure science fiction dystopian novel for young adults, and I would highly recommend it both to children, and to people learning English.
♥ The bitter thing was that all the spirit, all the gallantry was wasted. For, even more than their inferiors, they accepted and looked forward to being Capped. It was an act of becoming a knight, or of turning from girl to lady. Thinking of this, I saw how good things could be meaningless in isolation. What value did courage have without a free and challenging mind to direct it?
♥ If one is seeking reason for disloyalty, it is useful to find something one can resent.
♥ There are viewing points where one can look out from the side of the mountain. Sometimes I go to one of these and stare down into the green sunlit valley far below. There are villages, tiny fields, roads, the pinhead specks of cattle. Life looks warm there, and easy, compared with the harshness of rock and ice by which we are surrounded. But I do not envy the valley people their ease.
For it is not quite true to say that we have no luxuries. We have two: freedom and hope. We live among men whose minds are their own, who do not accept the dominion of the Tripods, and who, having endured in patience for long enough, are even now preparing to carry the war to the enemy.
Our leaders keep their counsel, and we are only newcomers and boys—we could not expect to know what the projects are, or what our part in them may be. But we shall have a part, that is certain. And another thing is certain, too: in the end we shall destroy the Tripods, and free men will enjoy the goodness of the earth.