Having never read any H.G. Wells, I decided to try out The Invisible Man (My roommate later told me I should have started with a different Wells book, but I was already almost done). The story follows the titular man, a scientist who discovers a way to turn himself invisible but loses much of his humanity in doing so.
As a whole, the book was fine. I definitely believe that a man, particularly this man, could be driven to madness by his invisibility. In this sense, I had no problems with the major arc of the story, though I did take issue with the strategy when looking for the invisible man. People were advised to lock up their food or anything that could be used as a weapon against them. I, on the other hand, kept thinking that people should arm themselves with something to throw on the man, such as flour or paint, that would render him partially visible.
My issues with this novel stem from its pacing and tone. I felt a large disconnect between the beginning of the story and the end. The beginning of the story focuses on the townspeople of Iping and their curiosity about the stranger. The townspeople are generally bumbling and the stranger is dressed eccentrically to hide his invisibility. The narration often pokes fun at the villagers and the combination is altogether silly. The story ends with the man attempting to terrorize people, but it was hard for me to feel scared of the invisible man when he had just been robbed by his dim-witted accomplice.
Furthermore, because it was such a short book, there wasn’t a ton of time to let moments land or to ramp up the tension. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re going to have a big change in tone, characterization, etc., I feel like you need more time to develop the change and get there in a gradual or realistic manner. Had the tone in the beginning worked to create suspense and a feeling of dread, this story would have excelled as a work of horror.
That said, H.G. Wells is a major figure in science fiction, so it was good to read as a fan of the genre. I figure I’ll read The Time Machine before deciding how I feel about him.
Title: The Invisible Man
Author: H.G. Wells
Publisher: Signet Classics
My rating: ☆☆☆ (3 stars)
Recommended for: Anyone who likes science fiction and is interested in the history of the genre