I have a hard time being objective. I’d prefer to leave objectivity to the journalists. That being said, I usually try to be at least somewhat objective when I review a book. And since my tastes – from music to men – usually fall far from the norm, I try my best to look at a book from all sides.
When I finally got around to reading my old copy of The War of the Worlds, I had high expectations. I mean, HG Wells is heralded as being one of the “fathers” of Science Fiction. Along with Jules Verne, he is virtually given credit for the invention of the genre – which just so happens to be my second-favorite (after Fantasy, of course).
Oftentimes, Science Fiction writers focus so much on creating a plot full of aliens, explosions, and the like that they completely forgo character development (I have to admit that Fantasy falls into this trap as well). Sometimes this works out if the plot is exceptional, but I usually feel like something’s missing. When I find a book that combines an exciting plot, character development, AND great writing –well then I’m hooked (**coughOrsonScottCardcough**). I expected nothing less when I read Journey to the Center of the Earth last month. Honestly, the book couldn’t have disappointed me more. I respect its place in the Science Fiction canon, but throwing all objectivity aside – it sucked.
When I started reading The War of the Worlds, I was again hoping for a novel that would satisfy me. Once again – major suckage. If you can summarize a novel in one sentence, you know there isn’t much going on. SPOILER ALERT: Martians invade Earth and then abruptly die from the planet’s bacteria. That’s about it. There’s a guy who wanders around missing his wife and trying to find food. Oh, and there are some red plants. NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS.
I’m sure I’m going to get some negative feedback on this post, but let me say again that this is my opinion and I do indeed respect Wells (and Verne) for their places in Science Fiction’s history. But have you ever watched a movie and afterwards realized that yes, the actors were talented; and yes, the script was great – but personally you hated it? If so, you know exactly how I feel about The War of the Worlds.
So why exactly did I dislike this Science Fiction classic? For one, it was boring. The language was flat and nondescript. You would think it hard to make a Martian invasion boring, but … apparently it’s possible. The protagonist wasn’t likeable or relatable enough for me to care whether he lived or died. I was briefly worried about the main character’s brother, however, but Wells decided to abandon that side story midway through the book. I seriously can’t even remember the main character’s name. Let’s call him Frank.
So Frank’s hometown is destroyed. He takes his wife and flees to safety in another town. But like an idiot, he leaves her and becomes trapped when a cylinder from Mars falls basically right on top of him. He gets trapped in a cellar or something and bemoans his fate for about two weeks. Oh, and there is an annoying curate stuck in there with him who gets sucked dry by the Martians (they suck his blood out, it’s pretty cool). When Frank finally crawls into the daylight, he finds that all the Martians have fallen prey to Earth germs. Dead people are everywhere and a strange red weed from Mars has grown up around all water sources.
What really got me was that, near the end of the story, when Frank finally returns to his half-destroyed home, his wife is waiting for him. So wait – a stroke of bad luck wipes out the Martians and his wife somehow manages to survive despite the fact that the town she was staying in was blasted by a Martian heat-ray?! Preposterous.
*When I went back to try and find the protagonist’s name, I realized that Wells never gives him one.