I was looking for something short to read and came across an old beat-up copy of The Invisible Man on our shelves. It seemed like the perfect book — a little science fiction, a compact story, something to read while sitting on the roof enjoying a sunny afternoon.
Griffin, a scientist, invents a machine that uses optics to make things invisible to the naked eye. He tests his machine, and the procedure, on himself. He completes the process but he doesn’t have time to reverse it before he is kicked out of the inn where he’s conducting his experiments by the people of the town who don’t trust him. With no options, and no desire to explain himself or his work, he leaves the inn in his new invisible state. He steals to get what he needs then enlists a man to assist him in getting his notes back from the inn where he abandoned them. When he, and his invisible state, are reported to the authorities, Griffin flips and goes on a bit of a terror spree wanting to get back at the man who betrayed him.
The science fiction aspect of the book is interesting and the explanation believable. Griffin wasn’t a likable character though — he’s arrogant, mean, and capable of murder. I kept wondering what it was that made him that way because I didn’t believe it could have been the invisibility alone. He does tell his story but it doesn’t do anything to help his cause considering he openly talks of murder, setting fire to a place to hide his work, and robbing people. I’m fine with not liking the main character and here Griffin is really just being used as social commentary anyway so I understood the reasoning for it even if he didn’t appeal to me.
Having not read much HG Wells since high school, I was slightly stunned to find I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would. Don’t misinterpret that, I did like it, just not love it. I’m a person that likes to bond with the main character and here that wasn’t possible. The reader isn’t supposed to like Griffin but even knowing that didn’t help me. For me, he was the cruel scientist bent on revenge not caring about the people he was planning to hurt along the way to get what he wanted.
As I’m writing this review I’m beginning to wonder if I’m experiencing an aversion to Wells’s writing and now I’m thinking of going back to re-read The Time Machine to see what I think of that. Interesting how that happens to me sometimes.
The Invisible Man
By HG Wells