There are some authors that I just want to like, but can’t really get into. H. G. Wells is one of them. I think the first book I read of his was The Time Machine. I don’t know if I finished that one. I think I may have finished The Invisible Man. I know I did not make it through The Island of Doctor Moreau.
I have finally thrown in the towel on The War of the Worlds. I am not giving up easily, I made it 150 pages into the book. It is a book that I really wanted to like.
I torture myself with some books just because they are supposed to be classics and “must read” material.
As much as I did not like the content, I do have to say that it is well written. Or, at least I think it is. He does a good job of writing, but there are two things I don’t like about it. I am more of a Jules Verne type of fiction reader. Wheres Verne tries to explain in detail why something works the way it does (even though you know it can’t), Wells requires you to make assumptions and just accept that what he says is true. I realize that approach is the norm in fiction, and particularly science fiction, but that is probably the reason I dislike fiction. Even if something is not true, I like to read a book that tries to convince me it is.
The second thing I don’t like about Wells’ style is very typical of books from his time period and before. There is an assumption that I have nothing better to do with my time than read their words. These stories move too slowly. I would prefer the comic book version: more pictures, fewer words. I don’t mind reading big books (though the shorter the better), but I want to get to the point of the story quickly. Or at least keep moving along.
While I can accept the assumption that Martians have invaded the earth, I need a bit more convincing that the slugs which are trapped from the first landing become a major force in the world in just a few hours. They were all but dead upon landing.
The kicker was when I got to the end of the story and he says “Oh, here is the second part of the book. I told you what happened to my brother and how the story ended, now I will tell you what happened to me.” Huh? If I know how it ends, why would I keep reading? I didn’t.
This is not really a fair review since it is pretty obvious I am not a fiction reader. However, this book would certainly not make me want to become one.
Wells, I am sorry, but you are just not for me.
The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells, NYRB publishers, 250 pages.
Here is the MP3 of the Orson Welles audio version.