Monday, July 09, 2012

56. The Devil's Children by Peter Dickinson (part I of The Changes Trilogy)

I do not have this copy, but I want it.
This book is part 1 of the Changes trilogy (and that is how I am reading it, in a single volume of the entire trilogy). I really struggled to blog each book at a time or to just do the entire trilogy, since the whole thing is around 350 pages. I chose to do each book because they were all originally written as single books. Furthermore, they were not written in the chronology of the trilogy, so that this book, is I believe, the third one published, even though it presents a bit of the origin of the disaster. My parents are big Peter Dickinson fans and when I was a kid, my dad read The Weathermonger to me and my sister each night before bedtime. I was just learning to read and when we were about two-thirds of the way through, I snuck in to my dad's stuff, found the book and secretly read it to the end! I think I actually kept my mouth shut until after it was over, but it was still seen as a scandal by my sister and my dad who were quite "disappointed".

This trilogy should definitely be on the great PA book list (whereever that is).  The apocalypse here is called The Change and it manifests itself quite suddenly in Great Britain causing almost everybody to suddenly hate all machines.  They just go beserk and attack any kind of machine.  The chaos (which we only hear of obliquely in the child narrator's memory) ends quickly, leaving the population much diminished (many dead or fled).  Most people who remain still hate machines to such a degree that they can't even say words like 'tractor' or 'electricity' and going near things like downed power-lines causes them to feel totally freaked-out.  They also have weird gaps in their memory where they can't remember much about history or geography.  We learn later that this phenomenon seems isolated to Great Britain.

The story here is about 12-year old Nicola, who was separated from her parents during the Change.  She waits for two days and then decides to make her way home.  She succeeds in doing that, but nobody is left.  She waits at home and one day a troupe of Sikhs come by.  She ends up joining with them.  For some reason, they haven't been affected by the change.  They were a community of Indian immigrants who lived all in the same neighbourhood (and are mostly from the same extended family) who decided to leave the city and try and find a place to survive.  They are a cool group for a post-apocalyptic setting.  They have a range of skills (metalworking, agriculture, sword fighting) from their own rural backgrounds and a kind of cultural democracy, though there is a matriarch.  Being immigrants and outsiders from British society already, they have a wary approach to other people already.  They are wary of Nicola at first, but then realize that she can act as a sort of canary in a coal mine, feeling the aversion to technology where they don't.  They want to use tools but also don't want to attract any crazed people towards them.

They do find a good place to try and make a new home from.  The book is about them doing that and their interactions with the suspicious village nearby, who call them The Devil's Children.  With the Change and the reversion to a pre-industrial society, comes also the old, now-modified, superstitions.  I'm very curious to see where this will go.  This book, in and of itself, is a neat little story about a self-sufficient young girl who falls in with these neat people and they all try and make a go of it.  It is short, though, and very local in scale.  It almost feels like a novella, but I guess that's because it's a young adult book.  I'm glad there are two more books to go!

This is the version I have and the image is
kind of awesome, though I believe it refers to only
The Weathermonger, the final book in the trilogy.

1 comment:

meezly said...

nice backstory... what a sneaky boy you must have been!

this must have been one of, if not the first, PA book you ever read then?