The Puppet Masters
by Robert Heinlein
Summary: First came the news that a flying saucer had landed in Iowa. Then came the announcement that the whole thing was a hoax. End of story. Case closed.
Except that two agents of the most secret intelligence agency in the U.S. government were on the scene and disappeared without reporting back. Then four more follow up agents also disappeared. So the head of the agency and his two top agents went in and managed to get out with their discovery: an invasion is underway by slug-like aliens who can touch a human and completely control his or her mind. What the humans know, they know. What the slugs want, no matter what, the human will do. And most of Iowa is already under their control.
Sam Cavanaugh was one of the agents who discovered the truth. Unfortunately, that was just before he was taken over by one of the aliens and began working for the invaders, with no will of his own. And he has just learned that a high official in the Treasury Department is now under control of the aliens. Since the Treasury Department includes the Secret Service, which safeguards the President of the United States, control of the entire nation is near at hand.
Source: I purchased a digital copy of this book for Kindle.
I enjoyed The Puppet Masters for the most part. It was absolutely fascinating and creative and a bit horrifying as slug-like aliens began their takeover of the human race. I also enjoyed the political and philosophical underlying themes, which were discussed in both the introduction and afterword and I thought the book was quite clever in having these layers. Overall, it was an amazing story. The problem I had with it was the way it was written.
The Puppet Masters reminded me of an old detective show with bad acting. A lot of older shows seem to be overacted and dramatic and also really simple at the same time. It’s hard to explain, but I always felt like there was little subtlety and mystery and reading between the lines in those kinds of shows. It also reminds me of a terrible B movie with a great plot but the acting is as bad as the script, which is terrible. And The Puppet Masters is a simple, straightforward read that left a lot to be desired. The explanations were simple, to the point, and it made for a boring read unless the actual events unfolding were interesting.
The introduction made it clear that The Puppet Masters was not a literary read by any means, but I still hoped for a good read. While I haven’t seen any of the movies, I’m led to believe this might be one of those stories where the movie better. After all, the plot is spectacular. It was just the writing that made it a dull read for me. The Puppet Masters has elements that make it a perfect science fiction novel and most of those elements are still built upon today, such as aliens, the taking over of the human race, and mind control. It’s the rest of the story that is lacking, such as dialogue, world building, character building, etc. I won’t begin to get into the issues regarding the female characters and the male relationships surrounding her because I realize this book is dated.
Overall, I would recommend this book to lovers of science fiction. The plot has been done plenty of times since the original publication and ripped off in a few other stories, but I’m glad I read the original. The concept was great and one I could appreciate and made up for the rest of the book.
The Puppet Masters is currently $6.99 for Kindle.