Book Review: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

By Elizabeth Contos in Poetry & Literature

The Invisible Man

Classics have always held a particular charm for me. Maybe it is my fascination with history. Maybe it’s the exploration of different ideals. Or maybe it’s simply the thickness of the text and how much there is to absorb. Either way, I have a weakness. So when I was in a book-store in the Science Fiction section and spotted this slim volume, I bought it. After all, H. G. Wells is considered one of the greatest science fiction writers ever, and this is among his most famous works.

The Invisible Man is the account of a mysterious trouble-maker who baffles those around him with his curious temper and his reclusive habits, beginning with the citizens in a quiet rural village. At first, the stranger is welcomed, but his manners grow increasingly repulsive, and over the course of the novel, escalate into anger and then violence, making others indignant, and eventually terrified. Thus the tale carries an element of horror and though it does not strive to be graphic, it is, in a way, profoundly disturbing.
Wells is like a painter mixing colours. Through the accounts of various characters, he combines quaint country observations with dark themes like cruelty, savageness and mental instability. I believe it was his intent to create a moral as well as entertaining work, and in doing so he colours an otherwise light book with dark undertones. So it turns out that The Invisible Man is something of a complex study on selfishness, weak-mindedness, and ultimately, on humanity.
Several of my observations were founded in disappointment: the plot holds little structure and falls flat in some places; the characters are odd and nobody is very likeable, except for the heroic Doctor Kemp, and he is not introduced until over halfway through the story.
But the book is a classic. It is not famous for nothing. People everywhere, in all times, can relate to the themes presented here – heroism, fear, morality, and justice. The ‘scientific’ components are also worth noting – they are imaginative and were, for me, a highlight of the work.
I was curious to taste a Sci-Fi classic, and anyone who enjoys embarking on new literary adventures might be too. They could read The Invisible Man to educate themselves. In fact, I recommend that they do. I believe that, despite its flaws, this little story has something to give not only to its own time, but to ours.