The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells

From the first ten or so chapters of H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds, I can tell that the novel will end with a not-so-happy ending like many of his other books. I have read many other of H.G. Wells novels such as The Invisible Man, but this particular novel has surpassed my expectations based off of some of his other works. Plot wise, we have all heard of science fiction tales telling of martian men invading Earth, and how we have to fight them off in order to save humanity, and this novel does not stray far from that common theme. The difference though is that H.G. Wells is the author. Much like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells possesses the unique skill of taking an experience a character has that in the story takes mere moments, and then writing a page long description that captivates the reader. These descriptions are common within The War of the Worlds, and is usually used when describing alien technology or grotesque scenes describing the casualties of war. I will not forget the original description of the monster H.G. Wells created in his novel, with its V-shaped mouth and its pointed upper lip, and the absence of brow ridges and chin beneath the wedge like lower lip. What surprised me was that as the martians first landed on Earth, there was no involvement on the governments part, nor was there any involvement when citizens were killed with the aliens heat rays! This was one of the few flaws that I think may have affected the novel negatively. The real fun started when fighting between the humans and martian began in chapter nine, which is appropriately titled “the fighting begins.” H.G. Wells descriptions of mass panic sweeping the nation and the world is haunting, because of the idea of extra terrestrials visiting us at any moment is a very real possibility. The War of the Worlds so far is thought provoking in a way that asks the question: What happens when we are forced to stop fighting against each other as nations, and start fighting together as a species?

Peter Sukamto

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10 responses to “The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells

  1. redinbon

    War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is a unique story. The narrator quickly sets the scene as late nineteenth century England, and Martians are attacking. All of us have heard this story many times over, but Wells manages to put a unique twist on it. He doesn’t immediately pull us into an alien space ray battle, but draws the reader in slowly, over ten chapters. Our narrator is an average guy, and he is easy to relate to. He’s confused, and rather likable. His voice is one of the more memorable parts of this novel. However, the rest of the characters seem entirely unrealistic. I realize that communication must have taken longer in those days, but there are dozens of scorched bodies in a town common and people five miles away either don’t know or don’t care. Many of the characters treat this as an amusement park ride. I don’t find this very believable, but it does make saying ‘I told you so!’ that much more fun. The plot is rather boring at first, but by Chapter ten it begins to pick up more. This is an interesting tactic to draw readers in, and it works. As I said, the novel takes place in England, so their customs are very different than mine. It’s odd to hear the narrator talking about his afternoon bath and teatime. I am thoroughly enjoying the book so far, and I look forward to enjoying it some more.
    Nathan Redinbo

  2. comment – The War of the Worlds, by H.G, Wells

    For the most part, I agree with Peter’s summary of the first quarter of The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. So far in the story, the plot has been more of a basic narrative of what happened before the real fun begins, as Peter said, in chapter 9. The story’s narrator is your typical British, enlightened, well-to-do person that you find narrating science fiction stories. I find the voice of the story compelling as well as interesting as it draws you into the book, letting your own imagination take over when description can only get so far. Besides the fact that Martians are invading the Earth, Wells portraits rural Britain extremely accurately, which only adds to the realism of the more out-there parts of the story. Wells also does a brilliant job of describing the terrified masses of people running from the heat wave, and some getting trampled in the process. Scenes like these greatly contribute to the whole atmosphere of the story, which I find to be rather ominous and dark, even in the chapters before the Martians landed. I haven’t read many science fiction books yet, but from the first chapters of The War of the Worlds, I think I might be up for reading more of the genre, as it is so descriptive and compelling. On the topic of a happy ending, I think Wells could manage to pull something off, even if it seems a distant possibility in the early chapters.

    Donald Rigby

  3. Like most types of Sci-Fi, The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells is heavily focused on human nature rather then the actual story. When I was reading, I found that plot wise, there wasn’t much substance, some aliens land on earth and kill some confused humans, which is rather generic. But that doesn’t matter, this book isn’t supposed to tell a story about aliens, its supposed to tell a story about human nature. The human reactions to the aliens are eerily believable. At first, the humans just crowd around the place where the martians landed, without even considering that they’re in danger, and watch. When the aliens do start attacking, the people who are just out of reach of the crash site where the aliens are stuck don’t even change their lifestyles at all, even though around 300 people were killed by aliens within walking distance of their homes. This is a great example of people clinging to any form of normalcy that they see even though the world seems to be collapsing around them. On top of that, they don’t even acknowledge that the world is collapsing, the local college has to be destroyed before people are willing to leave their homes and head for safety. Beyond the exploration of human nature, this book is very shallow. Character development has been shallow, even though this is the exposition of the book. There has been two main plot points in nine chapters, aliens land and a bunch of people die, and on top of that, the writing toggles between descriptive and concise more frequently then I’m comfortable with. But thats ok. This is not a book meant to be a deep and thought provoking story, this isn’t supposed to chronicle the struggles of a specific group of people. No, its meant to explore how humans act in the collapse of society, which shows a lot about society itself. When you read the book looking for that specific aspect, the book is very deep and engaging.
    – Walt O’Connor

  4. NathanR

    I am halfway through War of the Worlds now, and the book has improved exponentially since I last wrote about it. The characters have clearer motivations, the writing is much more descriptive, and the plot is actually interesting. It is now clear to me that the first quarter of the book was meant to set the scene for the rest of the book. My favorite part of the book is how people react. Many are skeptical when they are told Martians are attacking, and this is very believable. I kept thinking back to super storm Sandy and how nobody thought it was going to be an issue. The most powerful aspect of Wells’ writing is the characters and their motivations. It is frightfully obvious to the reader what the people in this book want to do: survive. There are some twisted people in this plot, and the scariest things in this book are not the aliens, but the average citizens. This is set in England in the 1800’s, and many people seem very civilized and proper, but everyone goes through a drastic change after the alien invasion. It is very disturbing, but very fun to read. The protagonist of the book is not perfect either. He’s actually pretty mean in some parts. He is easily upset at others failings, which I find to be incredibly annoying. At some spots, I was hoping the Martians would eat him. Despite the narrator’s issues, the book is full of memorable characters and settings. Although British people would probably enjoy this more than Americans, it is definitely worth your time.

  5. petersukamto

    I would definitely agree with my partner Nathan on the fact that the overall feel of the book has improved greatly since my last blog post. As the plot advances new personalities are introduced, each very unique in scope but share one common trait. That trait is the strive to survive the alien attack in any means necessary. The character in the novel remind me very much of the characters in the Fallout games. Each character has his own story, but at the end of the day he just wants to make a profit and survive. Plot wise the martians are still continuing to slaughter the helpless inhabitants of the fictional version of planet Earth. I think tone was not intentionally meant to be depressing, but realistic. Depression is just a bi-product of the realistic fact that if Earth was to be invaded by Martians we would all be screwed. Maybe we would not be as helpless to the alien’s heat rays today with our modern technology, but it would probably mark the start of the apocalypse. One thing that I love about science fiction novels (especially the early ones) is that technology and ideas that could never possibly exist, turn from fictional to non-fiction as our technology advances. It is amazing to learn that authors like Jules Verne wrote about submarines and tazers before they were even invented! Another thing that I like about the novel so far is that the narration does not follow only one person, in chapter fourteen the view point being written from is from the original narrator’s younger brother. This gives variety to the book and makes the story more interesting because it gives more insight on how other citizens are reacting to the invasion of Earth. I look forward to reading more as the plot thickens.

  6. NathanR

    War of the Worlds is heralded as one of the best science fiction books written by Wells. I would have agreed with that statement up until this point in the story. It seems to have hit a wall. The plot has stopped moving forward. The protagonist has grown to be unlikable and rather whiny. Many of the other characters are also unlikable. I have to force myself to read the next page- every time! While this may seem exaggerated to you, let me assure you, the book has grown to be an unlikable read. The protagonist seems unlikable and distant. I find it difficult to connect with him on an emotional level. He seems concerned over mundane things, but in the section that I’m reviewing, he hasn’t devoted a single sentence of concern over his missing wife. Much of this section is devoted to an equally unlikable character who attaches himself to the protagonist like a leech. Listening to the bickering conversations is boring and frustrating. If I wanted to listen to an argument, I could start talking to my brother. The alien’s plot remains unexplained at this point, although they seem intent on killing or eating everybody in Britian. Hopefully this will become an important plot point later on, but right now, they don’t seem to have a purpose. I will try to keep my judgement in check until I finish the book, but the voice is lacking and overall, I just find the experience to be rather boring. I hope to say otherwise in my final review.

  7. Note: Sorry about not writing earlier, but I was in Thailand for all of winter break, and internet there is absurdly expensive.

    At about a third of the way through the book, the perspective flips from the a first person view from the main characters perspective to the main character recounting his brothers experience. The switch is very awkward and poorly handled, and then the new perspective feels very poorly done. Its almost as if H.G. Wells originally wrote the six chapters of the book in first person, and then decided to switch it to a third person retelling by replacing all words like “I” or “My” with “My brother”, or “My Brother’s”. It feels clumsy and unrealistic, and frankly is not too interesting of a section. On the other hand, the reactions of the people are still as realistic and interesting as they were at the beginning of the book, but the characterization and history of everybody in the book is roughly equal with to that of the characterization of a blank notecard. We know nothing about who anyone, even the main character is, except that he fits the idea of a stereotypical british person in the late 1800’s- early 1900’s. Despite this, “War of the Worlds” still reveals interesting aspects of human nature, but as Nathan has already said, this section of the book has just fallen flat, and its very difficult to connect with anyone emotionally. As of now, reading the book feels like reading an informative report with random sections of dialogue and imagery injected into it. I feel like soon, H.G. Wells will stop focusing on the main characters brother’s (Whose name i still can’t remember) experiences, and the book might become interesting again.

  8. petersukamto

    War of the Worlds is my now second or maybe third novel that I have read by H.G. Wells. The first have of the novel has captivated me, and has kept me flipping through pages as a SpongeBob Squarepants flips krabby patties. Unfortunately the novel has reached a point where the story has acquired the curse that many of Wells novels has. That curse being that the story becomes misguided, and strays away from the reader expectations of what is to happen. What I loved in the first half of War of the Worlds was the conflict between the human race and the invading aliens. At the point the plot has degraded to a point where the novel centers around the protagonist and his disputes with the endangered members of the human race. It is almost as if the main character forgot that there were invading aliens to deal with, and that he should be working diligently with the rest of humanity to fight back. It makes me feel frustrated and bored reading at times, leaving me listing off a number of more important plot lines that Wells could have followed besides the one he is writing of now. Although this section has left a bad taste in my mouth, I have hope for the upcoming chapters. Although I do have hope still invested in the novel, I am all too worried that the novel will end like some of his other writings. Using The Invisible Man as an example, I know that the climax is reached near the end of the story, leading readers thinking that there is much to come in order to tie loose ends that are left in the plot. What happens though is that many of the sub conflicts and the main conflict is summed up quickly all at once, and before you know it the novel is over. The only good thing to come out of this is that the endings usually are not ambiguous, and leave the reader satisfied. I feel that War of the Worlds can end this way especially because of the documentation tone that Wells used, making it only fitting that the story would end like an outdated documentary that requires a VCR to watch. Your move Mr. Wells.

  9. petersukamto

    War of the Worlds: 8/10
    Wow. In my case I use the word “wow” in the form of an expression to describe the amount of astonishment that was generated inside of me after reading the final pages of War of the Worlds. Coincidentally “wow” is also an acronym for War of the Worlds, and quite frankly, wow fits well with how the ending of War of the World goes. Obviously I don’t want to spoil the ending for anybody, but the reason why the ending is so well written is because Wells foreshadows the ending throughout the entire book, yet because of his previous works he leads you to thinking that the ending was going to be the exact opposite of what it turns out to be. Because of this I believe that H.G. Wells made up for his previous lack of excitement in the chapters that I reviewed in my previous entry. One problem that I do have with the book is how Wells would often leave us (the readers) hanging when he goes off writing about one conflict, then suddenly forgetting about it, and later revisit the forgotten conflict without addressing a reason why the main protagonist dropped what he was doing to go off on another tangent. This lead to a bit of disorganization, and lack of unity in the book, but is later made up because of how well Wells is able to unify all of the forgotten sub-plot lines within the last chapters of the book. On a more symbolic note, Wells writes about what the human population would do after a martian invasion, which is thought provoking. In my first blog post I asked the question: what happens when we have to stop fighting as countries, and start fighting as a species? Fortunately Wells answered my question in a positive way, and showed me that when a group is threatened to extinction, they will band together to support the common goal. With my knew found knowledge of Mr.Wells I look forward to reading The Time Machine, and if you have never read any of H.G. Well’s works, I recommend starting now, and with War of the Worlds.

  10. redinbon

    War of the Worlds= 7/10
    War of the Worlds was not the right book for me. I usually am a fan of action or science fiction stories, but this one just wasn’t great. The main character wasn’t all that appealing to me, and I never really empathized with him. Actually, I empathized with the Martians for most of the book, which is most definitely not what the author wanted. It isn’t because the writing is bad, it’s just rather old. This book was written for an older, British generation. There are lots of references that fly completely past my head, and when the main character says something like, “They crossed Toldsworth in a single bound!” I remain unimpressed. However, this isn’t to say you won’t like the book. The action sequences are not bad, and the scenario is interesting. The ending was a bit sudden, but it was a hard book to write an ending for. There isn’t really a lesson to be learned in this story, or a theme that can be analyzed, but for the right reader it could be a fun afternoon book. I can promise you that you will learn more about the English countryside than you ever wanted to know before.

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