Review of The Time Machine by H.G.Wells

It’s shameful to say that as an English student “I don’t read that much”, but it’s even more shameful to say ” I’m not reading anything outside the course materials.”

My NYR is to read more books but, getting back into the habit requires forming one – So, I’ll start now with the hopes that well into 2017 I’ll be able to say that I’m keeping to it.

The Time Machine is well-known as a “classic” read. Unsurprisingly I haven’t read too many of the classics and I always make the mistake of beginning with a classic after a long period of non-reading. This time around too, I made that mistake.

To sum up:

What was particularly good? : I loved the imagery in this book. Every good fantasy has well developed descriptive imagination which this book is filled with. It’s more speculative fiction but could very well cross over into fantasy.

What I didn’t enjoy: The lack of action. The narrative reminded me too much of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The majority of the story explored the Time Traveller’s surroundings and his thought process as he tried to get used to these but this left very little space for real tension building action.

I chose to begin my reading adventure with The Time Machine because visibly, it’s such a short read but having said that, the narrative felt considerably long. I assume that this was because of its descriptive writing style but, Wells captures the characters sense of being “hopelessly trapped” incredibly well. The narrative only really takes place within a timeframe of a week, for the Time Traveller – 8 days. However, what takes place within most of these 8 days is explained in such detail that it feels like an eternity. Of course this is both world establishing but annoying at times. For a 90 page read though, I could hardly expect more.

Nevertheless the actual appeal of the story, the act of time travel was outdated, more so having read this in 2016. There are fresher and more exciting approaches to it I have no doubt but, it’s still amazing to think that in the 19th Century the imagination could reach as far as 802,701 AD and with scientific explanation behind description, Wells ideas are arguably plausible to an extent, (for someone who knows nothing about science), especially from the time he was writing in.

I did quite enjoy the idea of a possibly utopian futuristic society, especially living in a time which is much closer to the opposite but, there is also an important lesson learnt at the end of the novel – the impossibility of utopia. Wells portrays this in my opinion subtly and beautifully with the unforeseen twists throughout the story.

Although the starting is intriguing, the old Victorian English language took me a while to get it into. Once I finally settled into the 19th Century setting it was then the descriptive narrative that I had to get used to and once I was used to this, the story was a whole lot more tolerable.

On the whole, the story wasn’t gripping per say, it was merely an interesting read, as if hearing an interesting story from someone you know. This short novel is more for pastime and a quick delve into a possible future. The only problem is that it’s so far ahead in time that it’s very easy to come out of that world and back to reality. It’s definitely not a book for an escapist.

Then, in the intermittent darknesses, I saw the moon spinning swiftly through her quarters from new to full, and had a faint glimpse of the circling stars.

My rating: 3.5/5

 

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