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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

The White Mountains

The White Mountains - John Christopher Tripods are cool, imagine these fearsome engines stomping around your neighborhood. They are not very practical though are they? Three legs don’t seem to be a very stable locomotive arrangement. The aliens came from light years away can they not spring for some aircrafts or something on wheels? At least double the number of legs for God’s sake!

When I first heard of this series I thought it was some kind of unofficial sequel to Wells’ awesome classic [b: The War of the Worlds|497179|The Time Machine/The War of the Worlds|H.G. Wells|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1357744876s/497179.jpg|1156369]. Well, now I know it is not, but it is still a damn fine ripping yarn. The White Mountains depicts a future where alien overlords have been in charge of our planet for hundreds of years. This is not an origin story so we don’t know what happened when the aliens showed up and how they subjugated the human race. To keep humans docile the aliens weld mind control caps on the adults’ heads. The year when the story takes place is not mentioned, there is even a possibility that the tripods may be man-made rather than aliens. I imagine more will be revealed in subsequent volumes of this Tripods series.

The White Mountains is told from the point of view of Will, the thirteen-year-old protagonist. One day Will decides to run away from his home town to avoid the Tripods' “Capping” process when he comes of age. He is accompanied by Henry, a cousin he dislikes, but insists on going along, on their journey they are later joined by a bright French boy they call “Beanpole” because Will and Henry can't pronounce Jean Paul. Their destination is the eponymous White Mountain, where – Will is told by an apparently crazy old man – there is a community of rebellious “uncapped” people. The book is entirely about their perilous journey to this mountain.

I wish I had read this book as a wee lad of fourteen or younger I would have loved his book to bits and immediately read the remaining three volumes. As an adult reader I really enjoyed it but I wish it was more edgy and dark with lots of swearing! This series is generally regarded as children’s books rather than YA. One thing it does have in common with modern YA books is that the setting is a dystopian with mankind under aliens’ domination rather than some post-apocalypse government. I certainly prefer it to [b: The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)|Suzanne Collins|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358275334s/2767052.jpg|2792775], kids being chased by giant tripods is much more exciting than kids being chased by other kids.

The book is very fast paced with something happening on every page, and there is not much in the way of dialogue. The characters are not developed very much but in a book under 200 pages in length that is forgivable. Certainly Will seems like a bit of an idiot most of the time, Henry vacillates back and forth from being callous to caring, and Beanpole is defined by his intellect only. The other characters they meet on their way just serve to help to move the story along. There is a palpable sense of danger when the kids are being chased by the tripods, but the ending seems terribly rushed.

Any way, I am on board for reading the rest of the series. I would love to know what happen next.

Rating: 5 stars for kids, 4 for adults!