Book Review | The Guardians by John Christopher


Title: The Guardians

Author: John Christopher

Publisher: Puffin Books

Release Date: 1970

Source: Own Copy

Set in the year 2052, the novel depicts a future, authoritarian England divided into two distinct societies: the modern, overpopulated "Conurbs" and the aristocratic, rarefied "County"; the former consists of crowded city districts and all-pervasive technology while the latter is made up of manors and rolling countrysides typical of 19th-century England. 

The novel follows a young Conurban named Rob as he comes to experience life in both worlds, uncovering truths and choosing sides in the process


Usually when I write a review, I have no problem finding the cover image, not today dear reader, today I had to *gasp* take my own photo!  My copy of The Guardians was published in 1982 and it cost £1.10p.  I’m not sure when I took ownership of this book but as it is literally falling apart I can only assume it must have been a while back.

I read this book during high school, it was discussed as part of our English lessons (quick side note-it was also during these lessons that the teacher introduced my to The Hobbit thus starting my love of The Lord of the Rings) and it could well be one of the first dystopian books I read.

The year is 2052, young Rob lives in the Conurb, a massive city full of technology and happy people believing they are living their best lives fenced off from the countryside.  The fence does indeed split the conurbation from the country, in the country life is slower andthe class of people much much higher.  

Rob has lost both his parents and is sent to a boarding school where conditions are rough and Rob fears the bullying bigger kids.  He longs to escape and one day he gets his chance.  He knows where he wants to go - the countryside, but he has the fence to traverse first.

His luck is in and he finds himself in the vast countryside but how will he fend for himself?  He encounters Mike, a boy of a similar age, he lives close by and the pair strike up a friendship as Mike helps Rob stay safe, feeding and clothing him, keeping him hidden.

Of course being kids they don’t realise that the adults have twigged something is going on.  Will Rob be sent back to the Conurbs to live in the horrible boarding school?  Or will he find something much worse is starting to work its way through the populace, a rebellion.

This book terrified me the first time I read it back in my teenage years, now, not so much but with everything that is going on in the world, cities being fenced off doesnt seem quite as far fetched as it does in this book.  The one thing it does address is a class divide, the rich get richer and the poor are lied too to make them believe they are happy.  It is still a good novel fifty years after its publication.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


13 comments

  1. I remember this author from my science fiction years. Stories about dystopias and stories about times after apocalypses were some of my favorites. It's fun that you reread this and found it to be good though it was published so long ago.

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    1. I always doubt my memory but I was glad this was still as good as I’d remembered.

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  2. Great review! And in case it's of interest, there's more about John Christopher (Sam Youd) and his writings at https://thesylepress.com/category/john-christopher-resources/

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  3. I can't believe I've never heard of this. How cool to revisit a book you read in high school😁

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    1. The success of The Tripods (the BBC did 2 parts of the 3 in the 80s) did tend to dwarf John Christopher's other YA writings ...

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  4. This sounds like a great one, but maybe a bit hard to find.

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  5. No, it's been back in print a few years now: https://www.amazon.com/Guardians-John-Christopher-ebook/dp/B00IBHS81C/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=the+guardians+christopher&qid=1597949411&sr=8-3

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  6. New to me but it sounds intriguing.

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  7. I had to giggle at the idea that you found to it scary to take a picture yourself of the book hahaha Really cool that you discovered The Hobbit through a teacher so early though! I wish it was my case! Great review nonetheless! :D

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    1. My photography skills are very lacking! We must have been lucky I’ve never heard of anybody else having the Hobbit in school!

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