Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review - The War of the Worlds

The War of the WorldsI've listened to the radio drama. I've seen a couple of movie/tv versions. But I'd never read the book. I've read a little bit of Wells but have never gotten around to this one. My son saw it on our shelf and wanted to know if he could read it so I decided to preview it for him first to be sure. After finishing it, I told him he could read it. He hasn't started it yet, but I'm curious to see what he thinks.

The writing style is definitely late 19th-century. There's a lot of the "high" language style present in a lot of other 1800s literature. It's a very descriptive and thoughtful writing style paying careful attention to even small details and drawing the reader in with intricate attention to the characters's emotional attachment to surroundings and events.

Additionally, H.G. Wells does an exquisite job in supplying fabulous details for the "science" portion of his science-fiction. He provides concrete information regarding astronomical studies of the day including references to astronomers, scientific magazines, various studies, and more. I didn't bother to cross-reference all of the details he provided. But they all had a definite ring of veracity. Some of them I was fairly certain I've read or at least heard reference in other documents I've read. Wells did a fabulous job of mixing the truth of science with the intense fiction of an invasion from Mars.

I also really enjoyed the psychological analysis of the humans and the Martians. The narrator often takes a moment to ponder the motivations and beliefs of the Martians and compares those to our own human beliefs during our own conquests (whether of other humans or of "lower life forms"). It provided an interesting parallel line of thought to think of the Martians as doing the same thing we had done...simply fighting for survival/expansion and exterminating/controlling life forms deemed to be inferior.

Overall, this was an engaging read and a lot of fun. While some of the writing and the details are antiquated, nearly all of the story and its concepts can be almost immediately dropped into our own 21st century world and be just as stark and terrifying (as shown in recent movies).

As for a recommended reading audience, I'm not really apprehensive about having my 11 year old read it. There were a handful of characters who "cursed" and there was one reference to sexuality (though in a very scientific means...discussing the apparently asexual reproduction method of the Martians). As to be expected, there was a lot of violence and death, but it was generally distanced and when it was "in your face", it was presented more analytically than grotesquely. More than the actual content, I think the language and writing style will be more likely to slow down a younger reader.

If you haven't read this one, you really should. I keep intending to read more Wells and other early sci-fi. It's a lot of fun..especially when it holds up so well even after a century or more.

4 out of 5 stars

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1 comment:

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I'm not much of a sci-fi person, but this book does sound quite brilliant. (Evidence of a good book AND a good review. Double bonus!) Thanks for the review!