Monday, November 5, 2012

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells
Edited to add a plot synopsis at Emmeline's request:
The Invisible Man is about a bloke who works out how to turn himself invisible but can't undo the effect. The story is about his efforts to fix the issue and how he manages to operate in a world in which one really has to be visible to be interacted with. [/edit]

Having previously watched Warehouse 13 on Syfy [very minor season 2 spoiler] the authorship of The Invisible Man was confusing to me because in Warehouse 13 H.G. Wells is brought back to life* and to almost everyone's surprise is actually a woman, Helena, who goes by 'HG' and used her brother as a cover but was actually the ideas powerhouse. From my brief research (yes, I just glanced over the wikipage), Wells does not appear to have been a woman, but having watched HG run around with Agents Bering and Latimer she was very much ingrained in my head as a woman.

I do believe that you read a book differently if the author is a woman or a man**. So I was doing this weird thing whereby the lens through which I read the book kept switching back and forth between female and male authorship.
Even though I knew the author was a man.

I didn't like the main character, the invisible man. And I don't believe he is supposed to be sympathetic, given that for most of the book we follow the story through the eyes of those around him; Mrs Hall, Mr Marvel and Kemp.
The invisible man was nasty and rude and as the story progresses one imagines that he has always been so, it isn't just as a result of his invisibility.
Later in the book they describe the man that was as having been an albino but the whole way I imagined him as black or very dark-featured because early on someone pointed out he had black legs.

"I seed through the tear of his trousers and the tear of his glove. You'd have expected a sort of pinky to show, wouldn't you? Well—there wasn't none. Just blackness. I tell you, he's as black as my hat."..."That marn's a piebald, Teddy. Black here and white there—in patches."

Even though I knew the reason his leg was 'black' was because what the man was seeing through the tear was, infact, the dark inside of an empty trouser leg.

This book was fairly unpleasant as none of the characters were particularly sympathetic. I was unable to connect with Mrs Hall; with Marvel I merely feared for his life (see below for reasons why); and whilst I liked Kemp he (and everyone) was hardly around long enough to get to know him.
The reason I feared for Marvel's life was because the way I read the back of the book was: Invisible man kills a man and goes to a friend for help. So I was waiting for him to kill someone in a rage or accidentally, which never seemed to happen.


Perhaps I misread and they were talking about when the Invisible Man is accidentally killed. But I spend the whole book on tenterhooks.


On the whole this book was not bad. As I say, the characters were not overly likeable but it moved quickly and was over soon. I wouldn't say that this is something everyone should read, but if you want to be able to say you've read some H.G.Wells you might want to go with this. From Warehouse 13 I was led to believe that Wells wrote about all sorts of fantastical inventions, so I was a bit disappointed in the lack thereof.


* In my handwritten notes (written about 6 months ago) I put an asterix here, but didn't put a corresponding thought anywhere on the page... so now I'm not sure why!
** For example, when I first read Harry Potter I believed that 'J.K.' was a man. I believe I was intentionally misled. Would Harry Potter have been as famous if, from the outset, the books were by 'Joanne Rowling'?

1 comment:

  1. Just a thought, this review would have been easier to understand if had given some brief synopsis of the book. As someone who's never even heard of it, I was totally lost all the way through. XX