I’ve been impressed with the writing of H.G. Wells thus far. War of the Worlds was as good as I’d hoped: as exciting as the Spielberg movie, but without the insufferable children and tedious family dynamics. The Time Machine, while a tad dry, was still well-written and enjoyable. The Island of Dr. Moreau was fairly straight forward, but was masterfully executed, prescient, and surprisingly humane relative to other books of its era (think Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, or some of Rudyard Kipling’s work).
The Invisible Man completes the unconnected quadrilogy of Wells’s best known works, and I found it to be the least engaging. While the basic story was interesting enough, the titular character, Griffin, was wholly unlikable.
The Invisible Man was written to be a modern retelling of Plato’s parable of the ring of Gyges, which grants the wearer invisibility at the risk of losing his morality. Griffen, therefore, fails the test by becoming a monster.
While I may recognize why Wells was intending him to be an unsympathetic character, I had the same problem here that I did with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. If you don’t like being with the protagonist, it’s really hard to enjoy the book, no matter the message.
Ultimately, not much happened here. Griffin shows up at an inn the town of Iping, already invisible but enshrouded in bandages and clothing. Mysterious and belligerent, he quickly becomes a person of interest in the community. What follows is a series of confrontations interspersed with desperate flights to avoid capture by local authorities. There is a decent amount of action, I suppose, but not much story.
As a morality tale, I would probably give this a solid 4 stars. I would’ve liked to have seen the transition from intrepid scientist to rampaging monster, but the story we’re given is pretty solid. This story really fails, for me, as science fiction and/or horror. There just isn’t enough meat here. The book as it is probably gets a 3.5 from me.
Read this to be an H.G. Wells completionist. Read it because it’s a classic, and classics should never be abandoned. But read it with the understanding that I rank this below his other novels.