Book Review: The War of the Worlds

I’ve read The Time Machine before, and H.G. Wells has an amazingly British outlook on the future. I also enjoy sci-fi from a perspective that can’t be like our own, simply because it was from a different time and era of technological advancement. So I’m excited to read another bit of old-school sci-fi from the original master!

The Book

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The War of the Worlds
Author: H.G. Wells
1898
Get it for Free on Gutenberg Project

I love that the Gutenberg Project has typed this bad-boy up. I can read it whenever, wherever, with little load time. Classic books such as these definitely are on my list so that I can catch up with those people who have more impressive arts degrees. I’m very excited to try this one out!

Non-Spoiler Review

I expected more after The Time Machine. The main character in Time Machine was compelling, and his discoveries were intertwined with emotional responses. I found the narrating character of War of the Worlds to be dull, and sometimes – such as the chapter where his brother helped the ladies in the wagon – he felt in the way. He nonchalantly described everything despite the horrifying civilian death counts and desperate battles.

In a similar vein, the battles themselves were dull and impersonal because the characters focused upon kept changing.  The main character didn’t always take center stage, and often described the world around him without making anything feel very personally important. I am already not great at audiobooks, and this one failed to keep my attention very well.

A positive about thus book is the creativity with the design of the martians and their goals. The science, despite obvious flaws due to its era, was actually pretty good. It’s obvious how War of the Worlds has influenced literally every alien-containing story since its inception. Even if you find the book boring like I did, its influence on science fiction absolutely makes it a must read. I don’t regret reading this book because of its importance in the genre.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The story contained altogether more running and descriptions of human death by Martian machine than I found either necessary or desirable. Most of the book was about the main character’s flight, subsequent holing up in a house, then escape once the Martians succumbed to Earthen bacteria.

I did like the solution.  I remember having heard about people complaining that this felt like a cop-out, but the whole point of the book was to talk about evolution and how it proceeded differently on Mars.  With that being the case, the solution being entirely out of the main characters hands felt right to me.

The problem was that everything was out of the main characters hands. To me, that meant the story lacked a lot of tension and felt something like a snuff book. Like I said earlier, read this because it’s important, not because it’s actually good.

Next week:

Another classic is up next week! The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The War of the Worlds

  1. Alexander Elliott says:

    Good review! Again, I have only seen the movie(s), and based on what you have said, they must have had some difficulty goosing up the story. Logan’s Run was like this – the book was truly awful, yet I loved the film!

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Haha, thanks! I’m not sure if the book was awful, per se, because it had so many qualities of the typical classic. Yet, I found it to lack a lot of good story qualities, so that was depressing. I think any movie versions would have to add more characterization in order to get away with it.

  2. D. Wallace Peach says:

    I had no idea that book was written in 1898. What an amazing imagination Wells had. I haven’t read it and I’m not sure I will, but you’re right about the huge impact it had on science fiction literature. Great review.

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