Book Review – The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells


Started off really good with the level of suspense caused by the enigmatic Martian behavior soon after they landed on Earth. Loved the ominous imagery evoked during the scenes described over the next few days of the Martian invasion. But the feeling of grandeur towards the Martians started tapering off the more I read. Whether intended or not, the Martian behavior started becoming more primitive or dare I say idiotic as time went on, which might’ve also been a reflection of the less advanced technology and scientific understanding during the time the book was published (1897). I was a huge fan of The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Time Machine, and I think it’s because the underlying ideas powering those plots were a little more ambiguous and timeless. Writing specifically about an alien invasion — especially one from our closest planetary neighbor — makes it harder to suspend disbelief when all aspects of such a story can be heavily explained away with our modern understanding of things. In other words, I don’t think The War of the Worlds has aged well.

I’ve seen both the 1950s and 2005 movie versions of The War of the Worlds and couldn’t help comparing the source material to those. Admittedly I was a little blinded by the Hollywood action of the Tom Cruise version which made it just a tad harder to accept the comparatively smaller scale of the book. Still, H.G. Wells’ original telling of The War of the Worlds had its own strengths. For one, I enjoyed the theme of information dissemination during catastrophic events, such as with an alien invasion. Thinking about the way this sort of news would travel in the post-Internet age was entertaining. Also, I loved the narrative and the psychoanalytical aspects of the book that weren’t necessarily translated over to the big screen. Even though The War of the Worlds wasn’t my favorite H.G. Wells book, he is still one of my favorite authors due to his writing style.

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