The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells

June 27, 2011 at 01:53 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Science Fiction, Thriller) (, , , , )

8/10

Like others of Wells’ early novels, The Invisible Man is a story constructed carefully around a scientific construct, explored in its feasibility, moral ramifications and other high-flown theoretical angles. Fortunately, in this hypothetical, Wells pays at least as much attention to the psychological and human aspects of the story, giving centre stage to Griffin’s descent into madness, his isolation and his steady departure from human society. So extensive is this focus that any other author would be accused of an anti-scientific bias, and alarmism.

This is certainly a book in two parts, with an Agatha Christie small-town mystery at the outset, and a furious and bloody manhunt forming the second part. Peculiarly, although the first part is told almost exclusively from the eponymous invisiblee’s perspective, the reader only begins to understand who he is in the second part. The supporting characters  in the first part of the book are likewise considerably vaguer than the figures who become more solid and vivid as the invisible man is slowly run to ground.

It is hard to feel a great deal of empathy for any of the characters. Wells’ narrators are typically rather dry and pedantic, and Kemp (the hero, if any is to be found) follows this mould precisely. This creates a very bleak and tragic atmosphere, though not altogether unpleasant, and not overbearing enough to make the book depressing. More violent and graphic than most fiction of this kind, but vividly imagined and impeccably described.

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