zaterdag 21 maart 2015

H. G. Wells: The War of the Worlds

Hi again

The War of the Worlds is H. G. Wells’ best known work.
My copy has only 189 pages and I ordered it from The Book Depository. This is a reread for me as I read it before in Dutch when I was much younger.

The Earth is being watched by aliens from Mars. They existed long before the human race and because of that we’re way behind in our evolution compared to them. The Martians know this, and they need a new planet to populate. Which means that our Earth is the obvious choice.
Our protagonist (again without a name) sees an explosion nearby and he decides to investigate. Obviously he’s not the only one with that thought. Once they reach the crater however it is clear that there is life inside the cylinder. Some men decide to move closer but they get incinerated by the Martians’ heat ray. The next day these Martians are working on something in their cylinders.
More cylinders crash on earth and the same happens close to those craters; people get incinerated and a lot of smoke and noise follows.
After a few days, the Martians leave their cylinder safe and sound in their newly fabricated tripod wherein they start destroying everything around them.
Wells makes a parallel between the Martians and their superiority over humans and the humans’ perception of their superiority over animals and the Earth.

The novel is about chaos and how a structured society can erupt into total anarchy.
Even though we think we are the superior ones because we are intelligent and in control over our Earth. In reality, we are only tolerated on this earth by its real master; nature.
The novel read as an objective retelling by an unknown protagonist who can represent every human on this invaded earth, thus making it very close to home. This protagonist gives us a very dry and rather boring description of the ravage. It is a bit scary, but it’s boring because we see no action. Our protagonist is hiding throughout a big part of the novel.
Wells focuses more on describing the ruins they left behind than on the Martians themselves. It could be because it would be easier for us to imagine how a body is laying dead on the ground then how this Martian tripod looks. But I really missed those details; it felt too far away to me, too disconnected. This novel lacks emotion and even suspense. It is a dry report in the paper.

I didn't enjoy this novel as much as his other works. This means that I wouldn’t recommend you to read this one first. It is a must-read of you enjoyed his other works, but if you’re just starting out, read something else first.

Happy reading.
Helena