Book Review: The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
I listened to the audio version as read by Alex Foster (http://alexfoster.me.uk/). This is a classic novel and the Invisible Man has appeared in other works such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The tale follows a man who has managed to turn himself invisible and made many of us wonder “What would I do if I were invisible.”
The character starts out invisible and is soon on the run before we go back to the beginning and figure out how the character became invisible in the first place before he goes back
As a Reader: This book takes an interesting look from several different viewpoints at an invisible man. He’s wrapped from head to toe causing people to think he’s disfigured in some way. He wants to be left alone with his books and bottles. His fits of anger are not appreciated by the landlady. He’s suspected of thievery and things only escalate further. There are several slow points in the book and the action rises and falls as the invisible man takes time to explain things to a friend. There’s a sudden shift in his attitude from “I need help to figure this out” to “I don’t need help until I take over the world” that caught me off guard. I understood that he was distraught, I knew how the story ended, but his sudden shift explaining how he became invisible and that he wanted to become visible again then suddenly took a nap and decided that he needed to take over the people who were inferior to him made me struggle with the end of the book
As a Writer: There are a lot of explanations in this story and even more ‘head hopping’. Even when in one person’s head there’s a sudden shift to someone else’s point of view then back into the other’s head .This causes a little confusion but the explanations really slow down the pacing of the story. Listening to this on audio (kudos to Mr. Foster on his reading) helped me get through the difficult parts. The sudden shift toward the end of the book seemed like a desperate grasp to make the story more compelling and it was at this point where the best writing in the book happens. It almost felt like someone else had written this entire section because the action is great, the descriptions flow well and there’s a limited focus on one character at a time.
There’s a lot technically wrong with this story, but overall an interesting read. If it hadn’t shifted as it did, the invisible man’s death would have been more tragic. As it was, there was no way to feel sympathy for the man. If the man had only wanted help in reversing the condition and became more anguished or even violent I could have bought into the ending. Having him suddenly want to use the condition to his advantage after so desperately spending the entire book looking for a cure just didn’t follow with the rest of the book. Almost as if an editor said “This book needs a more dramatic ending.”
Recommendation: Read this book or listen to it. There’s a lot in here that’s great information and the way he describes his experiments is fascinating. Even though it’s explanation via a character, it’s still neat to go through the process and the accusation once he completes the process. This is a classic book and a short read. Definitely worth the time.