Throwback Thursday [#10]: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Chatham River Press | Hardcover, 192 pages | 1989 | Adult Fiction | Science Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Back in 2012, I decided to do something about the glaring shortage of classics on my shelves. I own several of them, but I’ve never really read most of them. They’ve always been a terrifying undertaking, and I’m always worried that I’ll come off sounding a little pretentious. So I started picking classics that I thought would be relatively easy to read. I must admit that this H.G. Wells collection is a little way over my head, since his genre is something that I don’t normally seek out. However, there are six short stories to choose from; most of which are relatively known. So I chose the one that I know a bit about.

The War of the Worlds is a short novel that I thought would be a fun one to read since I’ve seen the movie years ago. I actually dragged my husband to see it, even though neither of us are a fan of Tom Cruise. We despise the poor sod, to be honest. I knew that the movie will be worlds different from the Victorian novel, which, to be honest is its major draw.

It was interesting to see how different things were at the time. For one, there were no phones or internet to spread the news of the world’s impending doom. All you have are people clamouring to save their own hides as they flee London. News of the invasion was passed on via rumours and hearsays. There was a telling absence of a ruling government directing its people; amongst of which, was the complete lack of organization from the military. In fact, every one was left to fend for themselves. Horses and carriages were the means of transport, a combination that seemed like a feeble match to the aliens.

The invaders were from Mars, but the notion that they’ve been here all along was alluded to. Some came in a fireball that embedded themselves in the ground. And when they rose from the pits from where they landed, people felt complacent enough to think that they’ll be slowed down by the gravitational difference between two planets. They were wrong, of course. In addition, with the seemingly archaic choice of weaponry, it had me thinking about how easily the human race would be wiped out. They were powerless.

In the end though, nature saved the day. If you’ve not seen the movie, the aliens got sick, and eventually died from consuming human blood. Humans had antibodies, viruses that the genetic make up of aliens couldn’t handle. It was what led to their demise.

What I loved about the movie adaptation was the realistic portrayal of how humans behave in time of great strife. We have the tendency to defeat our own selves. We succumb to madness – both real and imagined. That was a prevailing observation in this novel as well. I think it was even more so, because the lack of information at the time wreaked havoc in everyone’s minds.

The underlying lesson in this book is, simply put, dominance; hierarchy, and the man’s perch on top of the food chain. That regardless of how important, and how further ahead we are from other species, there will always be something/someone who will have to power to overcome us. Existentially, we were compared to animals that we hunt (for game or for sustenance). Humans turn on their basest of instincts when faced with grave danger. Unfortunately, we more often go back to our selfish nature.

In conclusion, this book was a fast read. Though the narrative is painfully dry, the suspense and the action makes the readers forget the lack of dialogues.

  • I actually have this on my TBR, and I do really want to read it because it’s a classic I’ve heard a lot about! I like the lesson behind the book! And wait this is a group of short stories? I think that makes it more readable, because I don’t know if I can read an entire story without much dialogue!

    Awesome review Joy! I really like the greenness of that cover. I don’t know where I can get a “classic” version of this book though, but I would still love one!

    • Thanks, Val. You need your patience, for sure. I tend to fall asleep with paragraphs upon paragraphs of narrative, but I suppose it’s the old way of story telling. I still enjoy this one. 🙂

  • I have shelves full of classics too, and try to get through them by reading one per month, two if time permits. I actually purchased this one a few months ago but having not seen the movie, the premise sounded a bit daunting. It sounds like it strays into boredom territory a few times, but I’m glad the action more than makes up for it. Will be picking this one up soon now. Didn’t realise it was a few separate stories in one. That makes it more readable. Great review <3

  • Awesome review Joy 😀 This book sounds pretty interesting. <3 I just saw The War of the Worlds again a little while ago. It is a pretty good movie 🙂 this book sounds a bit better, though, I think. BUT HAH. I also cannot stand Tom Cruise 😀 Glad I'm not the only one, lol. Thank you for sharing about this book sweetie. <3 I will probably not read it, but maybe one day 🙂

  • Oh it’s intriguing! It must be interesting to compare the book and the movie like that, to see the differences and how they made it. I didn’t know there was a book. thank you for the review!

  • I’ve read quite a lot of classics through high school and later on on university where I studied English and German literature, but nowadays there’re more modern books on my shelves.
    So that’s why the title sounded familiar! I’m not a fan of T. Cruise, too, but I loved that movie. Glad you enjoyed the book- it sounds interesting, even though I don’t read a lot of science fiction. I prefer movies when it comes to that genre.

  • I haven’t read enough classics either – this one included. The dry style sounds like it might make for a slow read, but I’m glad the suspense made up for it. I think I’ll have to pick this one up!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  • Gah! I don’t have the enthusiasm for the classics anymore since I graduted decades ago. Most of these books are plot driven And heavy on narration it’s a perfect antidote for sleepless nights. I just watch the movie adaptations, terrible I know! My Lit professors would condemn me LOL.

    So big props to you for reading the entire story, good thing it’s short. It sounds exciting plot wise but I’m sure I’ll be taking naps every 10 pages or so.

  • I have never read one of Well’s books but I have wanted to. It sounds like this would be a good place to start. I love that you read this!

  • I attempted a bunch of classics that are on the ‘100 books to read before you die’ list, and I gave-up after 6-ish. They are just so dry, I can’t do it, plus a lot of them were written before women got the vote, and I can’t stand weak female protagonists. Props to you that your throwback Thursday posts are still going strong.

  • Really good review (:
    I despised this book, althoough I had been really excited to read it, because I’m a massive sci-fi fan, and this is a real sci-fi classic. It was just so boring. I haven’t seen the movie though, but it sounds on your post like it’s better.

    – Love, Felicia
    ( http://asillygirlsthoughts.weebly.com/ )

  • carolesrandomlife

    Wonderful post! My bookshelves have a shortage of classics too. I really need to do something about that at some point. I really don’t care for Tom Cruise either (except in Top Gun) so I have never seen this movie. I may have to look into this story it sounds like a classic I would actually enjoy.