Monday, February 11, 2013

The Invisible Man :: Book Review

The Invisible ManThe Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bad story written wonderfully.

Here’s how it goes –
(view spoiler)[
Am I missing something here?
I don’t understand why he didn’t make his clothes invisible, too? For all we know, his first experiment was on a piece of cloth (wool or something). Then why were we, the readers, made to go through a long long long (and I mean very long) narration of how he roamed around naked and came up with a grotesque disguise? Why were we taken through all the words with no purpose whatsoever for the character? [Ok, I’ll go back to reading this again. I’m going to go put myself through reader’s agony once again – only because I don’t get it how no one’s talking about this point? It’s not on the internet. It’s not in anyone’s review. Perhaps I was hasty and missed something? Perhaps I’m reading more into it?] (hide spoiler)]


A strange man with a strange costume comes to town. He’s got a mask, a wig, and bandages all over his face. And soon enough mysterious things like creepy robberies happen. Sooner than you know it, (well you do know it, thanks to the title) The Invisible Man’s identity is established. And, just as soon the whole town is equipped with a plan to stop his nonsense (by that I actually mean nonsense and not something evil that The Invisible Man should’ve been doing).

When you think of invisibility, you think of it as a power that is so great that you can do almost anything with it. The absolute power associated with invisibility, something as good as Harry’s Invisibility Cloak’s invisibility or something as evil as Lord Sauron’s Ring’s invisibility. The Invisible Man is not about that. Don’t be fooled by the intriguing element of power that hangs around the word ‘invisible’.

Here is a story of what happens in the everyday life of a person who is invisible. Well’s Invisible Man’s invisibility is neither a boon nor a bane; it’s a condition he has to live with.


“I felt as a seeing man would do, with padded feet and noiseless clothes, in a city of the blind. I experienced a wild impulse to jest, to startle people, to clap men on the back, fling people’s hats astray, and generally revel in my extraordinary advantage.

But hardly had I emerged from Great Portland Street, when I heard a clashing concussion and was hit violently behind, and turning saw a man carrying a basket of soda-water syphons, and looking at amazement at his burden.” …

“But now you begin to realize,” said the Invisible Man, “the full disadvantage of my condition. I had no shelter, no covering – to get clothing, was to forego all my advantage, to make myself a strange and terrible thing. I was fasting; for to eat, to fill myself with unassimilated matter, would be to become grotesquely visible again.”…

“And the snow had warned me of other dangers. I could not go abroad in snow – it would settle on me and expose me. Rain, too, would make me a watery outline, a glistening surface of a man – a bubble. And fog – I should be like a fainter bubble in a fog, a surface, a greasy glimmer of humanity…”


Here is the story of incompetence. When great power comes to those who cannot handle it, they end up wasting it. And, by that I do not mean misusing it. Well’s Invisible Man is a psychopath, as established bleakly in the story through a mere line, and his desire to kill people for the heck of it does not ‘happen’ because he had no plan [see, that’s what chance discoveries do].

The element of terror & fear does not reach the reader, instead the endeavours and mishaps The Invisible Man keeps encountering irritate the reader. The reader feels apathetic towards the protagonist albeit it’s a lonely character going through tough times. ‘Pull your act together!” is what the reader wants to yell all the time.

I acknowledge Well’s contribution to science fiction. However, The Invisible Man had a scarcity of that, too. It’s a pity that such an interesting subject backed by Well’s good science fiction could not make it happen. The story lacks logic and the reader never feels that something important is at stake. Almost half the book is eaten up by invisible words to establish The Invisible Man’s problems, and the remainder is taken up by his narration of his survival problems. The last few pages of the book has a bleak chase after which The Invisible Man, both the book and the character, end tragically.

A pitiful read.


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