Friday, 17 June 2011

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1.5/5)

The back says: The War of the Worlds depicts a future Earth invaded by a super-powerful malevolent Martian force. Wells describes the destruction of civilisation with chilling realism in this famous fast-moving story.

I say: I saw the movie adaptation of this starring Tom Cruise some time ago (years, months, who knows with my memory) and I thought it was good (aside: I love bad movies; the worse, the better), so I thought this would be good. Note, I read The Invisible Man a week or so ago and wasn’t sure if it was the writing or the story. Having finished this I can indisputably state that it’s the writing;

it burns.




It took me 5 days to finish this because every time I picked it up I just wanted to cry, and threw it to the side (thank goodness I didn’t buy this, but borrowed it from the library). The first chapter pretty much set the tone; don’t get me wrong, I’m very interested in astronomy, but Wells’s writing is so teeth-grindingly dull, I wish I had given up right there. But no, my masochistic self pressed on, confident that it would get better.

Spoiler: it didn’t.

I had absolutely no interest in anything about this story. I couldn’t care less if the narrator, his wife, brother and every single person in Greater London, England and the world died and the Martians ruled the planet for all eternity. I don’t think I can properly convey how much this annoyed me. The way the narrator described the spaceships, the Martians (hilarious), his stupid trek all over London, and the way he thought himself so intelligent and yet only came across as smug. The only time I was mildly entertained was when the artilleryman was talking about what would become of earth and mankind, and that only lasted a few pages.

It was like reading a scientific report; there were no emotions conveyed (or maybe I missed them). I don’t know, perhaps this was the point, but I didn’t like it at all. Also, the way this story is told, we already know that the narrator isn’t going to get killed (unfortunately), and that his brother survives as well, so it would have been a thousand times better if it turned out that the Martians enslaved mankind and that someone just found this recording.

Dun dun dun...

But no, because that would have made this an interesting story. As it is it's just a stupid account of how the Martians came and... I guess I can't give away the end for anyone who doesn't want to know.


I must say that this is one of two books where I think the movie was better. Also, I think Wells may have just knocked down Thomas Hardy from the number one spot as my worst literary kryptonite. And I still have to read The Time Machine for my 100 Classics Challenge.

The horror... 


  1. Oh my! That bad?

    I almost think War of the Worlds sounds better when performed!

  2. For me, it was that bad. And yes, definately better performed because I just can't stand his writing. It bores me to tears.