Book Review: War of the Worlds

For book club this month we were instructed to read War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. I was delighted. “Sci-fi!” I cried, ecstatic that we have escaped from political satire.

In keeping with this delight, I ate up Wells’ narrative and now provide a review.

War of the Worlds

  • Author: H. G. Wells
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics
  • Year: 1898
  • Shelved in: Science Fiction
  • At a glance: Aliens. Literally. That’s the point. Aliens.
  • Is this review spoiler free?: Not really. And the ending is good enough to want to be un-spoiled. So if you’re picky, skip on down to “overall”, okay? Okay.

The Good Stuff

I seriously enjoyed this book. The thing that struck me right off the bat and let me know that I’d like it was Wells’ prose. It’s kind of a drag, not going to lie. The point is ALIENS and little else (besides the statement it makes). The characters don’t even have names. But in saying, the writing quality is incredible, and the lack of real characterization leaves you feeling like you are the protagonist, half the time. It’s a really cool experience, and it makes the excess of description seem less unnecessary, as it would seem if the book were written just about any other way.

And so while I may not have gotten emotional about very much in this book, I did get involved, and that, I think, is more what the author had in mind. There are Martians landing in London. This is how it’s happening. Isn’t it crazy? You as the reader are in the thick of a million things right now. And so while you’re a little removed, maybe looking through your glasses lenses, you are involved directly. And it’s intense.

And those Martians are scary, dude.

Really, the only other thing I have to say about it is this:

“By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”

Theme wise? This is it. Except in a weird way. Man didn’t…really…fight the Martians. The martins ate man and they died because apparently they have no immune systems. But in the end, man helped man. Man kept going. We’re still here. Somehow, each of the survivors, by their own right, they survived. Things happen, and things keep going on.

Pretty great stuff.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Really the only thing I would say in this vein is that before I was able to convince myself that the lack of characterization had a reason, it unnerved me. I wanted to know this guy, his name, his intentions beyond saving his wife. It was a little unsettling and emotionless and left me hoping I wouldn’t have to scream “Why? Why?” in agony over good prose and no characters the whole time. But it got better as time went on.

It could technically be described as kind of dull, I suppose. But maybe that’s because my copy is unbelievably dusty.


  • Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended to: People who like ALIENS. And really good writing. And good, classic sci-fi invasion stories.
  • Lasting impression: Endurance.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: War of the Worlds

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