Childhood’s End (1953) by Arthur C. Clarke

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It has happened folks! This is my 15th review since beginning this project and this is the first time I haven’t enjoyed reading the story I chose. Childhood’s End is a well written novel and I’m not sure I can put my finger on what I didn’t like but there it is. My first negative review.

Childhood’s End focuses on a benign invasion of earth by aliens known as the overlords. Their coming brings about peace and prosperity and turns earth into a utopia. The story tells of the aliens and human interactions with them as they take control of international relations and institute many changes.

As the tale progresses through its three sections (Earth and the Overlords, The Golden Age and the Last Generation) humanity slowly loses what makes it human and eventually ‘perfect’ humans evolve. They are basically vegetables who are super telepaths.

I think that is one of the main things that threw me about Childhood’s End. In the end humanity is changed forever. I don’t really like endings where the author decides to change everything to something unknowable. Such sweeping changes are hard to imagine and always leave me wondering if there hadn’t been a better, more palatable ending available.

Another thing that annoyed me was the lack of a main character. Usually the best part of any story is watching as a character changes and grows through his or her experiences. There is little character development in Childhood’s End as is a third person omnipresent narrator who doesn’t focus on one person for too long.

When it all comes down to it I guess I just didn’t like this book. I usually love Arthur C. Clarke but Childhood’s End simply didn’t appeal to me. Have a read yourself and tell me why I’m wrong below.

2 stars.

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