The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

Title: The War of the Worlds

Author: H.G. Wells

Publication Date: 1898

Review Score: 5/10

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking across then night sky from Mars, the villagers of Horsell Common discover a large crater in which lies a metal cylinder. Not long after this, Martians emerge from the pit and although they are greeted with a white flag and general curiosity, they soon start to kill all of the locals with a devastating heat ray that destroys all in its path.

Soon more cylinders arrive and the Martians start to build gigantic killing machines which tear through London wreaking havoc and killing all of those who stand in their way. Scared, dumbfounded and only having basic defences the human race looks to be on the brink of extension, but the Martians may have underestimated the resilience of Earth to foreign invaders.

Looking back over the synopsis I just wrote, the first thing I realise is that this book sounds so much more exciting than it actually is! The premise for this novel is fantastic, especially when you take into account that it was dreamt up over 100 year ago when Sci-Fi was in its infancy, but the delivery is just not that great.

For starters, we are taken through this novel by a narrator, who is recalling what happened to him during these events, and so we already know before starting that the humans come through this attack and are not wiped of the face of the planet, meaning that we are only really in it for the ride and to find out how the humans destroy the seemingly invincible Martians.

Secondly, although the ideas in this novel are amazingly original for the period it was written in, the actual events in the book do not do justice to the original idea and often fall flat, either being predictable or just not that exciting.

Finally, I don’t mean to spoil the end of the book for those who haven’t read it, but let me just say that the way the Martians are defeated is very disappointing and is almost as bad as “and then I woke up and it was all a dream!” ending in an abrupt and lack lustre manner.

What I find odd is that a lot of people view The War of the Worlds as H.G. Wells greatest novels, but having read The Time Machine and The Island of Doctor Moreau I can honestly say that this has been my least favourite of his so far.

The War of the Worlds will always be regarded as one of the greatest ever Sci-Fi novels, and given how progressive and mind blowing it was at the time I can understand this, but as an actual novel, rather than an idea, it is not all that great.

Although if you disagree with me please let me know, I would love to hear why!

1 Comment

Filed under 1001 Books, Sci-Fi

One response to “The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

  1. I definitely agree that The Time Machine was far better than The War of the Worlds, although I think that might be partly because I felt like War of the Worlds seemed more dated. I also didn’t like the way the narrator treated his poor wife… Being all like “Oh, honey, I know there are Martians attacking, so stay put while I go off adventuring. Good luck surviving!” is a bit of a dick move.

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