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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Invisible Man (review)

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
Reason for Reading: In the tbr stack
Rating: 2.5/5

Summarize the plot: A mysterious stranger appears in the town of Iping. He never uncovers his face, his temper is ferocious, and it seems he is experimenting with some kinds of chemicals. What could be his secret?

One sentence review: Excessively moralizing plot makes what could have been a fascinating read a bit dry

What I liked: Since, like it or not, the Invisible Man has entered the pantheon of cultural icons, appearing in all sorts of movies, comics, books, and the concept having reappeared in all sorts of other places, it was interesting to see where it all started. The simple countryfolk that the Invisible Man takes advantage of are meant to provide comic relief, and I did find myself smiling at their innocent theories about what the strange man's secret was.

What I didn't like: I just could not understand how someone who was smart enough to figure out how to turn themselves invisible couldn't figure out how to walk quietly enough that he wasn't always being caught by everyone. People, even the simple folk of Iping, kept hearing mysterious sneezes and footsteps, and eventually connect the dots. Likewise, I think I would have found him a little more sinister if he was actually could at manipulating people or actually terrorizing them. Even at his best, he's not very good at scaring anyone. He seems to incite anger, rather than cowering. And once he finds a homeless tramp that he wants to turn into his lab assistance, his only method of control is to say "I'll kill you?" Meh. As soon as his "assistant" gets away, he's shouting for the police. The Invisible Man is clearly shown by the end to be insane, but I think the book might have been more interesting if it was more of a horror read or if the Invisible Man had succeeded at more than just turning himself invisible.

Should I read it? There are 1. better classics to spend your time on and 2. better H. G. Wells books to read.


Oh said...

excessively moralizing: OK, I'll skip it. I've seen movies, heard radio dramas of it, etc etc but never actually read the book.
Thanks for this review which gives me permission to skip this classic. (weird how many "classics" we have on our shelf but we don't read!)

Lezlie said...

Oh, well. But I know I'll read it anyway, 'cause I'm just that kinda chick. :-) At least I'm warned!


Alyce said...

I've got this one on my Fill in the Gaps challenge list, so I'll be reading it sometime in the future. At least I know what to expect now. :)

Trish said...

Bummer. I've only read his War of the Worlds and found it really dry as well. I'm trying to talk myself into picking up The Time Machine, but I just can't seem to find the will power.

Sometimes I wonder just how some books ended up being classics?