Eleven-year-old Matthew Gore appears to have an imaginary friend, often observed having conversations with something unseen. His parents don't pay much attention to it, even though both feel that this is highly unusual for a boy of his age. However, Matthew's conversations become more and more unconventional and intricate as the days progress: why humans have two sexes, why the Earth follows a 7-day week when an 8-week period would make more sense, why humans count to 10 when the binary number system appears to be more practical.
What's more unsettling than these conversations is the entity that Matthew talks to. His parents notice that Matthew constantly switches between the masculine and the feminine person when he's talking to them about this 'friend', which they name Chocky. Matthew's father, David, is the more sympathetic parent, as compared to his mother who's always on the verge of a breakdown every time the subject of Chocky comes up.
Actually, Matthew's father makes up the whole narrative of the novel. And because of this, we see it first from a skeptic's point of view and then finally to one who's accepting of the fact that Chocky is indeed an extraterrestrial being. We soon learn that Chocky is able to talk to Matthew using channels involving the mind, channels which are unhindered by the physical limits of time and space.
It's easy to suspend one's disbelief when reading Chocky. Its subtle feel to it makes it more believable than most novels in this genre. When Chocky explains to Matthew's father that mind communication is efficient because it doesn't factor in the speed of light, you just keep on reading, somehow taking this bit as fact. Who knows, maybe this form of communication is the way to go after all.
Wyndham avoids technical SF jargon in Chocky. This is given a reason though. Apparently, Matthew's 11-year-old brain isn't mature enough to understand all the techno mumbo jumbo that Chocky is willing to impart. Even the binary number system is reduced to the letters Y and N when Matthew explains it to his parents.
Chocky is perfect for readers who are not too keen on reading the SF genre. And even though it was written more than 50 years ago, people will still feel uneasy with its premise. Let's face it, the idea of aliens suddenly talking to you is highly disturbing, no?
Read this book if:
- You love all the novels of John Wyndham.
- You're not really a fan of SF but willing to try out the genre.
- You had an imaginary friend when you were a kid.