A book with a colour in the title
The Invisible Man
H. G. Wells
Invisible is a colour, right? Either way, I'm counting it as one because: (a) there's stuff I want to say about this book, and (b) it didn't really fit into any of the other categories either. If that rankles your linguistic or scientific sensibilities then I guess that's a shame, but I'm sure you'll get over it. Besides, it's my blog and it follows my rules. So, yeah. Disclaimer over, let's talk about The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.
The titular invisible man is a scientist named Griffin who deliberately turns himself invisible only to realise that being invisible is more of a burden than a freedom. Although the reasoning for always keeping his body unseen under clothing and bandages is revealed to the characters fairly late on in the story, the title obviously makes it clear to the readers right from the start. This meant that the reader, like Griffin, was more knowledgeable about the situation than any of the viewpoint characters, which gave us an early insight into how it must have felt to be Griffin surrounded by the ignorance of all the other humans.
I do feel that there are some unfortunate implications in the first half of the novel, given that most of the characters are fairly unpleasant stereotypes of people less well off than H. G. Wells himself was. All of the working class women are nosy busybodies, while the working class men are all slow idiots. The landlady that Griffin rents a room from is particularly infuriating. She hovers around Griffin despite his repeated requests to be left alone, and she deliberately ignores her husband's subtle hints that she should stop talking. And, sure, it transpired that Griffin was a complete psychopath and probably deserved a bit of inconvenience, but she had no reason to know that. He was paying her for a room, requested to be left in peace, and she blatantly ignored his wishes. If a person asks you to leave them alone and respect their privacy, then it's only decent to leave them alone and respect their privacy.
Eventually Griffin does lose his patience and swears at her, and although the novel paints this in a negative light, I'd say she darn well deserved it. If I had to spend all my time around such intervening inconsiderate jerk-bags, I too might end up slightly unhinged and start taking the view that these prying gossipmongers weren't worth my effort to try not to hurt. And, okay, I wouldn't go on a full murder-rampage like Griffin ended up doing, but she absolutely brought his cussing on herself. Heck, and then she had the gall to get all ruffled up and indignant, which was utterly uncalled for!
Aaanyway, after some time, his secret invisibility is discovered and Griffin has to go on the run. Because he doesn't want to draw attention to himself, he removes his visible clothes and convinces a tramp named Thomas Marvel to carry his books and money for him. The tramp foolishly attempts to rob him, and is subsequently chased by the invisible man to a town where, by pure chance, a fellow scientist who knew Griffin at university lives. The scientist is named Dr. Kemp, and he's probably the first reasonable character to appear in the novel - which is also kinda unfortunate given he's also one of the first middle-class characters to turn up. (The book was written a long time ago, so I guess it's not really fair to judge H. G. Wells for his apparent classism, but it's still worth pointing out that it is present, I think.)
Kemp is the first guy who is really willing to help Griffin even after the invisibility is revealed to him, and so he is also the first person to whom Griffin discloses the events that led to his becoming an invisible fugitive. This is the point for me where the novel became really interesting as we hear, in Griffin's words, how it felt to be an invisible man. He talks about how he can't wear clothes if he wants to remain invisible, but he did need to try to steal some clothing to keep out the cold winter. He talks about how the food he eats remains visible for a while after he's eaten, so he has to hide while it's digesting. He talks about how dogs can still smell him but, because they can't anyone there, they go crazy around him.
We also slowly realise how deep Griffin's disregard for his fellow humans goes. Although Griffin doesn't see anything wrong with, for example, knocking out a disabled old man, robbing, gagging and tying him up, Kemp is understandably horrified and he refuses to aid Griffin in setting up a "reign of terror", instead sending word to the police station to come and arrest Griffin.
Realising that Kemp has betrayed him, Griffin flees and develops a vendetta against Kemp, murdering innocent people and assaulting one of Kemp's servants. I really enjoyed the fact that in order to catch Griffin, Kemp discloses all the relevant information he picked up from Griffin's story. What at the time had seemed to be merely a "how I got here" explanation was turned into a how-to guide on how to destroy an invisible man. Eventually Griffin is killed, and slowly, as his cells die, he reverts to being visible again. The novel ends with Marvel, the tramp who had stolen Griffin's notebooks, determining to do better as an invisible person that Griffen managed, and the scene where he attempts to decipher Griffin's notes is actually rather adorable. It's clear that Marvel has no idea what to make of the language in the notebooks, "Hex, little two up in the air, cross and a fiddle-de-dee," and through this we know Griffin's formula is lost forever.
All in all, I had a lot of fun reading The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. It's not too long or labourious, which is something I really like about Wells's novels. I was able to finish it in two evenings, and I'm a very slow reader. I thought some of the details were pretty cool ideas, in particular the fact that Griffin's food remained visible after he'd eaten (and its subsequent use as a Chekov's gun). I do think the second half of the novel was more interesting than the first half, but it was overall a good read that I enjoyed very much.
My name is Kirsty Morgan and I am a music student at the University of Aberdeen. I like monkeys, the colour pink, the TV show Firefly, Diet Coke and playing on swings.