The War of the Worlds – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)

The Martians have arrived, and they will take no prisoners. No one is safe. It’s best to run.

That is the premise of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells. To an extent, the story seems familiar: an alien invasion, people fleeing, and all seems hopeless. But this is one of the first alien invasion stories, which has given way to so many more of our favorite tales today. It is not necessarily what you expect though. The tale is not told from the perspective of a grand scientist or a war general or some genius kid in a basement. This is told from the perspective of a man impacted the same way as everyone else: he forced to flee his home, survive by any means, and live in shambles until the invasion ends.

In a way, it is almost like reading a report of what happened, or a memoir. This is a man account of an invasion, similar to the recollection of a civilian caught amid the terror of a war. It’s a quest for survival, while other more talented men search for answers. In the end, there is no grand explosion like in the movie Independence Day or a negotiation like in Star Trek. No. Instead, we witness what could actually happen: disease saving the day.

Due to when the story was written, it can get wordy, which I sometimes found myself zoning out during certain parts of the story. Granted, this might also be due to the narrator or my own ability to focus (as is sometimes the case with audio books). The story meanders, which if you’re writing a recollection of your own life is often the case, and due to the narrator’s point-of-view, sometimes we’re removed from the action.

Yet, The War of the Worlds is still a book that deserves recognition. While today the idea may lack creativity, you have to remember that this was the first book to ever consider a martian invasion. Besides, this is the book that inspired Orson Welles’s radio production that supposedly tricked some listeners into believing there was a Martian invasion. It might seem foolish now, but in a time before television, such vivid descriptions might set people on edge.

While I give this book 3-stars, I don’t know if it is because of the narrator or the time period it was written that puts it back. Primarily, the winding narration got a little cumbersome. Still, that being said, I am so glad I read this book. It puts my favorite sci-fi books into perspective.

What’s it about?

First published by H. G. Wells in 1898, The War of the Worlds is the granddaddy of all alien invasion stories. The novel begins ominously, as the lone voice of a narrator intones, “No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s.”

Things then progress from a series of seemingly mundane reports about odd atmospheric disturbances taking place on Mars to the arrival of Martians just outside of London. At first, the Martians seem laughable, hardly able to move in Earth’s comparatively heavy gravity, even enough to raise themselves out of the pit created when their spaceship landed. But soon the Martians reveal their true nature as death machines 100 feet tall rise up from the pit and begin laying waste to the surrounding land. Wells quickly moves the story from the countryside to the evacuation of London itself and the loss of all hope as England’s military suffers defeat after defeat.

With horror, the narrator describes how the Martians suck the blood from living humans for sustenance and how it’s clear that man is not being conquered so much as corralled.

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