Review: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
by Jack Finney / narrated by Kristoffer Tabori

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Invasion of the Body Snatchers / B002VACTHE

I bought this audiobook on the recommendation of a friend and I'm still uncertain how to rate it, especially as I haven't rated the book text itself elsewhere. I'll try to address both here, the book content and the quality of the audio book.

The audiobook itself is quite good. The narration is strong and does a lot to flesh out the narration voice -- indeed, I think the narrator manages to make an otherwise forgettable or even unlikeable character very sympathetic. The wry humor and deep weariness of the narrative voice comes through loud and clear, and it does a lot towards creating the atmosphere that this book is trying to evoke: when a major plot point is that the weary heroes cannot sleep or all will be lost, it's a plus to have a weary-sounding narrator. And it works very well as a whole.

The book itself I'm less enthused over. I recognize that this is a book from the 1950s and was revolutionary in its own way, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it has aged well. There's some casual misogyny here that may be distracting to the reader, and the heroes don't always face their apocalypse very sensibly. Readers will figure out major plot points long before the characters do, which makes them sometimes seem willfully obtuse. (This is one of the unfortunate side-effects of modern readers being genre-savvy to this form of literature, I suppose.)

Early in the stages of the apocalypse, the reasons given for why the heroes can't go to the authorities for help seem sort of flimsy, culminating at a point where they manage to call someone in Washington in order to register concern only to be talked out of it because, meh, it all seems kind of silly so nevermind. I get that this is supposed to be a commentary on the inefficient authorities against internal threats, but you'd think once you got through the phone lines, you'd at least TRY to register that stuff is about to go very, very badly. 

Overall, if you already know you enjoy this book, I think you'll be pleased with the audiobook version. If you've heard of the book because it was groundbreaking for its time, and if you don't mind some of the usual flaws of 1950s science fiction -- genre-ignorant characters and sometimes very slow pacing -- then you may well enjoy this book. I give it 3 stars for the text and 5 stars for the narration itself.

~ Ana Mardoll


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