(Penguin Red Classics, 2007)
I always thought my first foray into H.G. Wells would be The War of the Worlds - but actually this made a fantastic starting point! A quick read, The Invisible Man is accessible, vivid and packs quite a punch along the way, and I really enjoyed it.
It's about... well, an Invisible Man. Except when he first arrives in the little town of Iping, no one KNOWS he's an Invisible Man. Swathed in bandages, wearing gloves and heavy clothes, and with a hat and goggle-like glasses hiding his features, everyone assumes he's had a terrible accident. It's only when odd things begin to happen and the increasingly volatile gentleman is provoked into revealing his secret that all hell breaks loose. Is he a sympathetic victim or a murderous madman? Will he find someone to help him? How on earth did he reach this point in his life? How DOES a man render himself invisible anyway?
What really surprised me, at least earlier on in the book, is how funny it is. The small-town characters are so amusing - Mr Marvel, the tramp, has some particularly good one-liners that made me chuckle - and some of their brilliantly observed little foibles are ones we all recognise even if we'd rather not admit to them! Nearer the end of the book the humour gives way largely to the Invisible Man's eloquently-told story and the melodramatic thrill of the chase, which was interesting but for me, not as enjoyable as the quick wit of the first half. Nevertheless, I'm very glad to have finally read this classic of science fiction writing - and I'm still looking forward to The War of the Worlds!
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.