Book Review: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to read this science fiction classic by H. G. Wells. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Invisible Man and I feared I wouldn’t like this novel either. My main concern was that it would seem out-dated and feel too hokey for me. I was wrong.

The synopsis from Goodreads:

“I’ve had a most amazing time….”

So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him the reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes…and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth.  There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well.  Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century.

My Review:

The narrator, the Time Traveler, resides in Richmond, Surrey in Victorian England. He hosts weekly dinner guests and the book starts off with the Time Traveler discussing a fourth dimension. At first I was like here we go, a bunch of terms and theories that will go straight over my head.  But the discussion was brief and not too taxing for my non-scientific brain.

The following week, the Time Traveler is late for his own dinner party and his guests start wondering if he did in fact succeed. Soon he appears for dinner and he’s disheveled, bewildered, and famished. Then he sits down and recounts his experiences in the future.

What I loved about this story was that Wells has his narrator recount his story instead of following his narrator into time. This made it so much more plausible and enjoyable. It was like sitting around a campfire, or a dinner party with plenty of wine, listening to a whopper of a tale. And boy was I pulled into his story. Considering I thought this book would be a dud, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. And I read most of it while sipping a beer in a dark London pub. That always enhances any reading experience.  If you haven’t read The Time Machine, give it a go, it might just surprise you.

I read this book for Carl’s 2014 Sci-Fi Experience and Andrea’s Vintage Science Fiction month. Stop by both blogs to find out more.

What’s the last book that surprised you? Good or bad. 

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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46 Responses to Book Review: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

  1. calmgrove says:

    It’s been many years since I read this — another one to revisit due to your timely reminder! In the future, obviously.

  2. I felt the same way and was really glad and surprised. I think this really is a classic and was ahead of its time. Has a strange tone to it but is very compelling. I liked your review 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I won’t lie, I expected to dislike this one, but it’s on my 1001 list so I had to read it. The tone is odd and hard to describe, but it was a page-turner for me.

  3. Charlotte says:

    I too enjoyed the book more than I expected to when I started it. Have you seen the film adaptation of it?

  4. Caroline says:

    I can’t remember this at al. We read it in school.
    You actually make it sound quite appealing. I musts till have my old copy somewhere,
    I wanted to join the Sci-Fi Experince too, especially since I’ve picked up a sic-fi novel recently but I’m bad with sign up posts and such at the moment.

  5. I may have to read this, after all. And, interestingly, I had realized it was published SO long ago. Thanks for the review, MTM!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  6. StillWalks says:

    I would have been about 14 when I read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I probably didn’t think too much about why I liked it at the time but I think you may have hit the nail on the head with your review. Thanks.

  7. it’s been a long time since i read this, but i remember enjoying it. it’s a short book to have so much in it. i liked the 1960 film another commenter mentioned but haven’t seen the remake.

  8. I love your description that it was “like sitting around a campfire, or a dinner party with plenty of wine, listening to a whopper of a tale”. What a great reaction! You know, I think Bryan had to read this one for school, and I’ll bet I can steal it off his bookshelf without him even noticing :).

    • TBM says:

      Thief! Thief! What’s Bryan’s email?

      • LOL! He won’t care. It breaks my heart to say this, but he hates reading :(.

      • TBM says:

        There’s still time for him. The Better Half didn’t read a lot when we met. But that has changed. Don’t give up, but don’t force it. Is he more of a movie person? Gamer?

      • I do hope he’ll go back to it one day because he loved to read when he was younger. I don’t think there are too many teenage boys that like to read. He is definitely a gamer, and he loves to watch movies with his girlfriend. Plus he really enjoys watching documentary type shows about animals or the ones on lately where they follow the lives of men who work on fishing boats or mine for gold in the Yukon. They’re actually really interesting.

  9. Grace says:

    I loved “The Time Machine.” I could almost picture one of my friends being the time traveler and everyone else listening incredulously to some outlandish story. I also really liked the way that Wells calls out the class-based stratification of society.

  10. Jo Bryant says:

    too many books to read…and then you go and add one more to the list for me…shame on you

  11. Geoff W says:

    I most definitely need to re-read Wells’ works! If you haven’t yet you should check out the Dead Authors Podcast, H.G. Wells (Paul F. Thompkins) is the host and it’s hilarious!

    • TBM says:

      You know I don’t listen to enough podcasts and I should. Are you still doing yours? Where do I find them?

      • Geoff W says:

        I find most of mine via the app, but I know you can search the iTunes Store or look on stitcher or another similar site. I put mine on hold. Might just be a summer thing it was too much of a commitment when work got super busy.

      • TBM says:

        I look forward to your summer podcasts! And it’ll be here before you know it. Can’t believe it’s almost February

  12. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM! I have read only a few short stories and one history book by H.G.Wells. I haven’t read a novel by him yet. From your description ‘The Time Traveller’ looks like a wonderful story. It was interesting that he has explored the fourth dimension in the story. Your description of the story makes me think of the movie series ‘Back to the Future’ 🙂 I would love to read this book sometime. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • TBM says:

      I loved the film, Back to the Future. I remember seeing that in the theater when I was a kid. I hope you get a chance to read it. I think you’d like it.

  13. I’ve not read it. Can’t even remember what Wells I have read, so will add him to my list on my next library visit (yes, I know, BD is long overdue!)

  14. I’m not a fan of sci-fi, but this is supposed to be really good. Thanks for the reminder, TBM.

  15. Novroz says:

    I have been wondering about this book. I quite like his other sci-fi book and wonder whether to read this one too or now. Thank you for the review. I will read it then 🙂

  16. Pingback: Vintage-y goodness around the blogosphere! | the Little Red Reviewer

  17. Pingback: Book Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne | 50 Year Project

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