The Great Reading-list Battle: H.G Wells – The War of The Worlds

I know it is of popular opinion that we students stay in bed all day, watch Jeremy Kyle and only emerge at night when the clubs open to drink away our student loans.
In actual fact, there is very rarely a time where we have time to lounge around and watch mind-numbing telly. Of course everyone is different, and I realise some students DO live exactly as I have just described, but for those who have hopes of finishing their degrees, there is always something to be done.
At this point you might be thinking I’m mental, because it’s summer and everyone’s gone home or on holiday (like me), and how can you still have work to do now?
I have two words for you.
Reading List.

This summer I have 13 books to read before the start of the academic year in October. I started reading my least favourite novel on the list about a month ago, but because I find George Elliot absolutely insufferable, I decided to take a break and read something different.
A science fiction classic, ‘The War of The Worlds’.

Written by H.G Wells in 1895 and published in 1898, ‘The War of The Worlds’ was one of the first novels to tell a story of conflict between humans and the extra terrestrial. It was also first on my list to read, after I’d temporarily given up on reading Middlemarch.
I began reading on the flight over to Lanzarote, grateful of the fact that though it is a 19th Century novel, it’s easy to understand without having to re-read certain passages over again to get to grips with what’s being said.
The book is also relatively short (28 Chapters) which is handy if you’re after a quick holiday read, or trying to get through a list of other science fiction books like me!
I must admit after finishing the novel the other day, I was slightly underwhelmed. It’s written well and as I said before, it’s easy to understand, but given Wells’ talent for quite graphic description, I’d probably place this novel in the horror section rather than science fiction.

Without giving too much away, I couldn’t help feeling that Wells didn’t spend enough time describing what I felt was more important I.e the Martians and their activities. Instead he focused on how empty London was and how the unnamed narrator got stuck in someone’s pantry for two weeks, and then finished up with quite a flimsy, half-baked ending.
I think the most interesting aspect of this novel is seeing quite how much science fiction has developed over the years. While I can appreciate the novel is iconic for setting the ball rolling, I can’t help thinking that an episode of Doctor Who (even the first series) is more science fiction-y than ‘The War of the Worlds’…
I think if you’re going to read this novel, you have to be sympathetic to the author, as it was written in a time where technology, science etc were advancing at an alarming rate. I suspect Wells was slightly distracted and therefore unable to write an imaginative ending (though in his defence, it was quite logical, just a bit too dull and abrupt!).
In spite of this, it was a good read and nice to tick it off the list; one down, 12 to go!


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