Book Review: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

I’ve been on a roll lately with my 1001 books. The last three have surprised me in a good way. Last year I read The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells and I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t a huge fan. This year I read The Time Machine and loved it. So I was curious, was The Time Machine a fluke? Would I like The War of the Worlds as much as that one?

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Man had not yet learned to fly when H.G. Wells conceived this story of a Martian attack on England. Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines. Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come.

Considering that this book was written in the late 1800s I have to say wow! I may have thought beforehand that the novel wouldn’t be able to grab my attention. I mean a book written about Martians during this time period—no way would it be able to suck me in. And I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie. Folks there’s a reason why this book is considered a classic. Not all the details about the Martian attack are clear, but that only added to the suspense. I think too many authors today don’t give readers and their imagination enough credit and overdo things with description. Less is more.

The narration of this novel was spot on. Each page pulled me further and further into the story. Wells was way ahead of his times and I wish I was able to read this back in his day. I bet it was even more terrifying. One flaw of the novel is that you really don’t get to know the characters. However, I really wasn’t too interested about them. I wanted to know what was going to happen. It’s a fun and fast read. Yet again I stayed up late to read this book. Maybe I need to find a dud so I’m not so tired. Nah, it’s worth it.

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.

Have you read this?

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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50 Responses to Book Review: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

  1. i’m glad you liked this one. i remember the first time i read it, i felt drawn in, too. i’ve seen both movies based on it (the 1953 version and the 2005 tom cruise remake) and like the earlier one better, but both are worth watching if you like the story. i’ll bet you have a few films in line ahead of them, though 😉

  2. StillWalks says:

    Ah, you’ve found another book I enjoyed as a youngster 🙂 I can’t say the same for the remake of film though – I hate that! I have not seen the original version for many years, so wouldn’t want to judge it now but I know I enjoyed the book.

  3. I really like this book. To a modern reader I think there’s a particularly interesting juxtaposition in seeing people from what’s now history fight something from science fiction. That Victorians vs Martians thing makes both sides a little alien and intriguing. It’s funny how Wells’s work can feel more fresh and new today than some of the works that have followed it.

  4. Novroz says:

    I like this book! You have written a fine review…intriguing and spoiler.
    I like the fact that Wells can imagine such thing in the ear where most writer wrote romance.

    I am half trough The Island of and liking it so far.

  5. Gosh, you HAVE been on a roll! I have not read the book or seen the movie, but will have to put this on my list. Thanks for the review! Hope your week is going well!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  6. calmgrove says:

    The War of the Worlds is another book on my To-Be-Re-Read list, so I was pleased to be reminded of it by this sensitive review. I read a recent comment somewhere (the Guardian I think) which put this book in the context of the British zeitgeist which, despite a vast worldwide Empire (or maybe because of it), feared invasion from any number of competing European nations. The spy stories The Riddle of the Sands and The Man Who Was Thursday (both of which I’ve reviewed) emerged from this charged atmosphere.

    • TBM says:

      Given this background I wonder what you’d think of this one. I can see it. And of course, at the time Germany was building up it’s arms and doing it’s best to carve out their own empire. Looking back it’s not surprising that WWI happened. It’s a shame, but not a surprise.

      • calmgrove says:

        I did read this as a schoolboy, long before I saw the 1950s film on TV (which I didn’t like — not authentic enough for me!). Though I haven’t seen the Tom Cruise version (it sounds an interesting take however) I guess that movie-makers reinterpret Wells’ tale for the concerns and zeitgeist of their own times.

      • TBM says:

        That’s very true. We seem to love to view the world from our own perspective.

  7. nrlymrtl says:

    I read this book 1-2 years ago and followed it up with Orson Welles’s radio adaptation. Both were fun, both drew me in. You’re right that the characters aren’t in-depth at all, but I wanted to know how civilization was going to respond to the Martians. If I remember correctly, there’s only 1 female in the book, and she gets to cry, scream, worry, etc. While it was written in the 1800s, I can still dislike that portrayal of half the species during an alien invasion, right?

  8. bulldog says:

    I read this book many years ago… so many, I can’t even say if I enjoyed it or not…

  9. I’m not a fan of sci-fi, so avoided this one too, but I’m truly amazed at how far ahead of the times he was! May have to make an exception for H.G. Wells.

  10. poppytump says:

    When I get more time … perhaps I’ll play catch up with some classic reading ! You write some great reviews TBM .

  11. I think you’re right. Authors should make readers exercise their imaginations more, like you did in Marionette :). I was constantly thinking, trying to figure out the truth, and you made me work for it :).

  12. I know I’ve read Invisible Man in the past and I remember enjoying it, but it was decades ago. Don’t recall reading any other Wells, although I do have a short story collection on my shelves. I’ve read about this book many times before. Like you I’m not big on the movies really. The whole radio play history is so interesting too. Glad you liked it (because where is the fun in *not* enjoying a read?) 🙂

  13. Geoff W says:

    Now could you imagine listening to Orson Welles radio adaptation! I’ve never heard it but I might have to see if I can get a hold of a copy.

  14. I need to read tis again – I remember thinking how terifying it must have been to the first readers, in fact, I found it pretty scary but enjoyable! And as for that Orson Welles adaptation – go for ti, it’s amazing!

  15. Rorybore says:

    that’s exactly what I loved about the book too — your imagination got to have a good ole romp!
    I would have loved to be one of the masses who heard the Orson Welles broadcast in 1938. I’d like to think I would not have also panicked; but imagine the combination of Orson’s voice and Wells words would have proved too much.

    • TBM says:

      Oh geez I may have panicked if I heard the broadcast. I’ve been told I can be gullible sometimes 😉 And my imagination gets the best of me. You should see me after I watch a scary movie–looking behind all the doors, shower curtain, under the bed with my baseball bat.

  16. Grace says:

    I enjoyed this one, but liked The Time Machine a lot more because I felt like it was less dated. 🙂

  17. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM! I loved your comment – “I think too many authors today don’t give readers and their imagination enough credit and overdo things with description. Less is more.” So beautifully put and so true. Glad to know that you liked your third H.G.Wells book. I remember one of my friends also saying that the book version is way better than the movie version.

    • TBM says:

      Some authors will go on and on with their descriptions and I want to shout: I get it! yes this is so much better than the movie version. At least the Tom Cruise one. I haven’t seen any others.

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