May 3, 2014

(Audio)Book review: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Listen at LibriVox

War of the Worlds by Herbert George Wells (H.G. Wells) was published in 1898 at a time when he wrote a series of novels related to a number of historical events of the time. The most important of these was the unification and militarization of Germany. The story, written in a semi-documentary style, is told in the first person by an unnamed observer. It tells of the events which happen mostly in London and the county of Surrey, England, when a number of vessels manned by aliens are fired from Mars and land on Earth.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

The War of the Worlds is only the second audiobook I've listened to, the first being Jeffery Deaver's The Bone Collector several years ago. The 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds was the first alien invasion story I'd ever seen, and it helped spawn my interest in the genre.

One frequent comment I've heard about audiobooks is that the reader makes a big difference. That was definitely the case with The War of the Worlds. The book started off well enough, and I liked that the reader had an English accent to match the location where the story took place. Then the Martians landed. Instead of feeling anxiety at the encounter, I felt... bored. The reader's monotonous delivery took away a lot of the suspense from the narrative. The lack of emotional range continued to bother me throughout the book.

In rating this audiobook, I primarily based it on my listening experience, which was just mediocre due to the reader. However, when I tried to imagine reading the book myself, I can see how it'd be better. If you get a chance to read The War of the Worlds, I recommend picking up the book and reading it yourself rather than listening to the LibriVox version that I did.

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