Book Review of The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds
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I downloaded this for free for my Kindle. I have never read this before (I have seen a couple bad movies about it) but was eager to read the original story. Overall I liked the story. I thought parts of it were a bit drawn out and boring; but overall it was definitely worth reading...and much better than any of The War of the Worlds movies I have seen.

The nameless narrator of this book tells about green capsules that fall to Earth. Inside them are strange tripod/octupus like creatures that use a heat-rays to destroy a number of people early on. The book follows the narrator as he struggles through the English countryside trying to make it back to his wife. Then for a while he tells the story of his brother in London and of the second Martian weapon they face, that of a black cloud which instantly kills people. Then the story winds back to the original narrator as he makes his way to London to see the final destruction of the Martians.

Like most classics, this story is most outstanding for the story it told at the time it told it. There are probably better books out there now (Christopher John's Tripod series comes to mind) about alien invasion; but for the time this was a very forward thinking book.

The description in the book is very well done and, it is, for the most part very readable and enjoyable. Wells does an excellent job of creating suspense at certain times in the book. He also does an excellent job at showing humanity both at its best and its worst. It is amazing how inhumane some of the humans in this book behave when they are in a panic. The most colossal tragedies this book show that there is space for great heroics and great evil in a time of mass destruction.

I also enjoyed the irony behind how the Martians finally meet there death; it was suiting and says interesting things about evolution in general.

There were some things I did not like about this book. Some of the parts just went on too long. There is a portion where the narrator spends forever describing every minute aspect of the Martians which was slow, another portion where the narrator is making his way across the countryside that was boring, and the part where the narrator is trapped in a collapsed house seemed to drag on forever. Wells gives great attention to the narrators situation but doesn't ever go outside of the narrators sphere of influence to see what is happening world-wide or what kind of reaction the rest of the world is having. Also the characters were pretty sketchy...this was definitely more of an adventure driven novel than a character driven one.

Should you read it? Well if you like sci-fi and are interested in alien invasion then this is a must; this is pretty much the story that inspired a lot of later sci-fi stories. A lot of the story is very enjoyable, engaging and intriguing; but as with many classics there are portions that drag on a bit. I never found the language or writing difficult to understand, so that means this novel has aged well with time. If you are not a sci-fi fan, interested in post-apocalyptic stories, or alien invasion I would probably skip this in favor of something else.

If you do really like this story and haven't read the Tripods trilogy by Christopher John I recommend that you do; the story is similar in tone, more character driven, and a wonderful read.