I was supposed to read this book by Halloween, which tells you just how far behind I am in my reading. Anyway…I have been wanting to read more of Wells’ books. I still have to read The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, both of which I hear are really great. However, I decided to start with one of his shorter ones. Namely, this one. Being under two hundred pages, and only about six hours on audiobook, it’s a quick read, and I found it interesting.
Synopsis: A scientist creates a drug to turn himself invisible, but lust for the power and revenge will lead to his demise.
This book presents a similar theme to The Picture of Dorian Grey, that lust for power, immortality, and in this case invisibility, is a dangerous thing. Griffin, the protagonist/antagonist and the invisible man, is a scientist obsessed with taking science a step further. He figures out a serum which, when ingested, makes light refract differently off the body, thus rendering the person (or thing, in the case of his first test subject, a cat) invisible to the average person’s eyes. Unlike many of the classic horror villains you think of (Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, etc.), what I love about this story is just how human Griffin is. He is twisted, certainly, but still human.
The story revolves around him befriending a man and telling him the story of how he became invisible. Most of this story is rather simplistic, but it is interesting, balancing the moral questions with action. One of the reasons I enjoy Wells’ books is he examines themes applicable to many people. Most of us have wanted to be invisible at least at some point in our life. Wells takes the question and goes further by saying, what if an immoral person became invisible. They would have no qualms of stealing, lying, and killing with their new abilities, evading the law and giving no care for human life.
But then you have to ask, what would happen if a truly good person became invisible? Would they just hide away, or try to live an ordinary life covered in bandages? Would we all be tempted to do bad things knowing no one could see us do it? Would we all become monsters too? I loved this theme, this idea of what is a monster and how an ability like invisibility effects a person.
Honestly, there isn’t that much to this story. Most of it is either about Griffin’s life previous to him becoming invisible, or the search by the police to capture/kill him. There were some holes in the “science,” though since it’s science fiction I’m not going to go too into it. For example, wouldn’t the serum eventually be digested and leave him body, making him visible? Why does he become visible after he dies? Because the blood stops flowing? Again, since this is fiction, I won’t get too into it, especially since I am no scientist.
On the surface, this is a pretty simple thriller, and yet I loved the moral questions it prompted. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend it, especially for how short it is.
Have you read this book or seen any adaptation? Would you want to be invisible? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,