Review: The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds (Atria Books) - H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a classic alien invasion novel written by H. G. Wells.  I think it would be difficult for a present-day science fiction reader to be completely blown away by this book when we’ve inevitably read or watched many similar types of stories.  However, it was still entertaining and it held my interest well with only the occasional dry spot.


I think what helped the story feel more “fresh” to me was the time period.  It’s set at around the same time as it was written – in the late 1800’s.  Most of the older science fiction books I’ve read have been set in the “future” as imagined by the author.  With this book, I had the fun of visiting a time period I don’t often see in my science fiction reading.  Since the author was living in that time period, it felt pretty authentic.  That, combined with the matter-of-fact tone the story is written in, almost made it feel like I was reading about a historical event that they forgot to teach us in school. :)  The technology of the time played a definite role in how things played out, particularly in terms of the limited transportation and communication options.


The writing style, as I said before, was very matter-of-fact.  It was written as a first-person account of events, focusing mainly on the events the narrator experienced.  There are also a couple chapters that tell part of his brother’s story to expand the view of what happened in areas further away from the narrator.


Although the story held my interest, there were certain aspects of it that I wasn’t thrilled with, and that I tend to complain about when they come up in other books.  This book has those one-dimensionally evil, invading aliens that never hold too much interest for me.  There’s also a bit of that “run, find refuge, danger approaches again, run again” circular pattern that I usually find tedious.  I wasn’t as bothered by these things in this book, though.  I think that was a combination of how short the book is, combined with the interesting time period in which it was set which added a different element to the story than what I’m used to reading.