Friday, October 7, 2011

The Invisible Man (H. G. Wells)

The Invisible Man
H. G. Wells
Public Domain Books
Fiction, Sci-Fi
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: A strange figure, bundled head to toe, arrives in a small English inn, quickly creating a stir with his blunt, antisocial manners and peculiar scientific instruments, with which he sequesters himself day and night while flying into untold rages. Is he a vivisectionist, a victim of some horrendous accident, or something more sinister? Much as the local tongues wag, none can guess the horrible truth, the terrible and tragic tale concealed by glove and hat-brim and bandages... the truth of a man felled by his own greatest triumph.

REVIEW: Yes, it was free on Kindle... many classics appear to be, which is rather convenient for those of us who skirted such staples in our misspent youth. (Not that I regret a moment spent buried in my Choose-Your-Own-Adventure collection, mind you...)
Where was I?
Oh, yes - I was implying the existence of a review rather than outright giving one. It may seem a cheap padding device to boost word count, but evidently it was a legitimate writing style for H. G. Wells; the book would've been half as long (if not shorter) had it focused on actual events, and not irrelevent sidetracks. A great many people, places, and things receive ample paragraphs of description, while the main plot mostly stagnates until close to the halfway point. I might not have minded so much, except so many of those peripheral people were caricatures along the lines of the Keystone Kops, ignorant yokels with slapstick sensibilities whose antics only needed a little goofy incidental music to transform into cartoons. Even after the Invisible Man is revealed to be invisible, the story scarcely develops enough momentum to clear the ground, though by the end it picks up to a satisfyingly brisk pace. Between copious clumps of padding, a tragic tale of a failed genius turned mad by the achievment of his heart's desire can be glimpsed. Unfortunately, those glimpses came too late to salvage this one in the ratings. It was just too much slogging and too little actual story. To be frank, I only justified an Okay rating out of deference to the age of the book, and thus the unfamiliar cultural mindset of the man who wrote it.

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