Book reviews

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells was a surprise to me, mostly because I thought about the things I would do if I was invisible and they were entirely different to what the Invisible Man did.

The joke of it is that as a middle-aged woman I’m reasonably invisible as it is, except when someone else (either at home or at work) wants something from me. But, ignoring that sad truth, if I was truly invisible I would lie around all day eating chocolate and reading novels, or crocheting, painting or drawing, all without being interrupted.

Instead of making the most of his situation though, the Invisible Man, who was filled up with hatred and anger (possibly as a result of poisoning himself with strychnine) went on a reign of terror.

The Invisible Man is described as science fiction but I thought the story could also be shelved in the horror section. The science of the main character becoming invisible was something to do with mirrors, jellyfish and refracting lights something, something, then something happening in a lab with little bottles, (apologies, I don’t do science or math very well) but happily for me the story wasn’t particularly scientific apart from those bits which I skipped over.

The horror was to do with the main character’s personality and how he dealt with the challenges of being invisible, none of which he had considered before experimenting on himself.

The story began with a heavily muffled man arriving at a village inn during a snowstorm and renting a room. The man soon annoyed his landlady by demanding complete privacy but since business was slow, she put up with his increasingly rude and offensive behaviour for some time.

When a strange theft took place in one of the village’s houses it was obvious that the Invisible Man had done the crime, even though no one could understand how he had managed it. After another fight with his landlady he became invisible, then before he could be arrested, took off all of his clothes and escaped.

The Invisible Man had a series of adventures before taking shelter with an old friend, Dr Kemp, to whom he explained how he had learned to become invisible and told him how he had been living. The Invisible Man told his story honestly, with no idea that Kemp would no longer be willing to hide him after he learned just how violently he had behaved towards others (and animals) in order to further his own interests. Not surprisingly, things didn’t end well for the Invisible Man.

I was amused by the reaction of Kemp being particularly horrified by him breaking into another man’s home. I don’t know why this seemed worse to him than any of the other things the Invisible Man did, but think it might be along the lines of an Englishman’s home being his castle. About the only thing Kemp didn’t say was, “It’s just not cricket!”

I’m still surprised that the Invisible Man didn’t spend his time doing fun things instead of feeling hard done by and attempting a Reign of Terror, but we’re all different.

Comments on: "The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells" (11)

  1. This is so funny! it would be fun to be really invisible so I agree, why would you do horrible things and I agree that we middle aged women are more or less invisible but I think we should try and enjoy it. . . Despite it’s horror (and I’m a bit worried by your mention of animals) you’ve made the experience of reading this sound very tempting!

  2. Great review ๐Ÿ˜€ I have often wished I could be invisible – but when I wanted to, not all the time and it would certainly be problematic to be stuck that way.

  3. There are a lot of benefits to being middle-aged. Feeling more confident than ever before is probably at the top of my list.
    I didn’t love this book, but it is very clever and must have been ground-breaking when it was first written. Another advantage of the book is that it is short!

  4. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
    I would rather be able to fly than be invisible if I could have a superpower. As it turned out, being invisible all of the time was problematic, at least for the Invisible Man, but in fairness, he brought all of his troubles on himself.

  5. I don’t know if it would be that great to be invisible. These days everyone wants the opposite, to be seen, to be noticed. And if you are not of a criminal character, you would still have to make money, get food etc, all of which may be more difficult, if people cant see you. Not to mention social distancing!! ๐Ÿ˜ I’ve read this book ages ago, but it can’t have made a huge impression, because I only vaguely remember it.

  6. I know I’ve read this but I don’t remember much of it. My first thought at the beginning of your review was that if I were invisible I could go for runs at night!

  7. If I was invisible I’d break into a chocolate factory and live there. Glad you enjoyed this one! I think the crossover between science fiction and horror is a very blurry line, especially back in the golden days of HG Wells and his contemporaries.

  8. True, fame is more important to more people than ever before!
    The reality of lots of things we imagine we would like probably have downsides we didn’t think of. The Invisible Man’s best plan might have been to join a circus!
    I didn’t particularly love this story, or even like it much but I appreciated that it was probably the first to use the idea of invisibility.

  9. As a former runner, I can see how that would extend the hours women could run and feel safe. Although the risk of tripping over in the dark might be a problem!

  10. Great idea! I didn’t even think of breaking into a chocolate factory.
    If I’m being honest, I would say that I appreciated this book better than I enjoyed it.
    I suppose horror is scary while science fiction has a scientific reason for the event in a story, but they are often both. Frankenstein fits in with both, too.

  11. Thatโ€™s a good point!

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