Wednesday, April 22, 2009

War of the Worlds Wednesday

Subtitled: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (Book Review or Maybe Not)
Subtitled subtitled: Wherein Megan joins a book group (but forgets to like...say stuff at it...d'oh I'm such an introvert, gimme some pie and don't ask me any questions.)
Subtitled x3: Gosh, I need to write a freakin' book review already. Come on.

I used to like to write book reviews. Now I like to read American Idol gossip and uh... sulk continuously about the state of my life. Thanks to the Read-a-thon I got a big wake-up call, like, hey, this is the book blogosphere, you like it. And books, you like them too! And writing! Sometimes you even like to do that! Now, I must attempt to translate these positive feelings about all things bookish into an actual post (about a book!) *gasp* I know. Except it's not going to be a real review cuz, I mean, who really reviews works of classic literature? Does it really matter if I liked it or not? It's not going to stop being a classic, is it? I'm Megan, and I have the power to end classic-hood of books! Muah....hahaha! Er, just kidding.

Speaking of classics, I have to ask. Is there some super secret literary prize for how many words you can pack onto a normal sized book page? I want to know, because hey, I picked this book up and I was all like, "Pshaw, 145 pages, I can do that no problem. And quick!" Yeah, whatever. They forgot the margins in this book, and the spaces between the words and the spaces between the... um... spaces. How demoralizing to spend weeks reading a 145 page book that you don't even loathe so much that you can't help putting it down for a week after every other sentence. So, my reading totals will look mind-numbingly dismal this week because the amount of words in this book could totally have taken up like 300 pages in a normally formatted book. Seriously.

But anyway, so I read The War of the Worlds for this book group at my church that wants to read literature and reflect on it literarily and, well, in light of Christianity and stuff. I finished the book, with a week to spare, and shuffled myself off to book group on Friday night where I and three married couples (hey look, Megan, you're the token single young person!) and the book group leader, who is, not-so-coincidentally the nerdy cool English teacher you had in high school who is oddly passionate enough about his subject that he has neckties dedicated to the individual works that he teaches. That's right. Guy shows up in a War of the Worlds tie not to mention toting a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that he's reviewing for the local paper. Seriously, why didn't I have this guy for my high school English classes? So, I sat down with my book, my pie, and a glass of water and listened attentively as everyone else discussed the book while occasionally adding an emphatic "Yes!" or "Mmmmhmmm" and secretly thinking "aw, I was gonna say that but you beat me to it!" So me at book group? Not exactly a huge success. Nonetheless, I think I shall return because I did actually enjoy myself and find it rather enlightening.

Now that I've blathered on at length, it's time for my in a nutshell impression of The War of the World which is about pretty invincible seeming Martians invading Victorian England and wreaking havoc upon it and all of its helpless citizens in the process of trying to steal Earth because Mars is dying, but, as my book group would tell you, it's about so much more all of which is revealed in a rather lengthy first paragraph but you won't figure it out until Not-My-English teacher guy says "What do you notice about the first paragraph?" *deep breath* The story is told from the point of view of our nameless narrator who is separated from his nameless wife and nameless brother. Once I got over thinking that I was supposed to have some connection to the narrator or his brother as they endure this fright, I rather appreciated the book. It's about humanity and human nature and what happens when our status quo is radically altered so that all our societal constructs fall apart. It's about Darwinism and natural selection and all that kind of thing. We'd say it's about the surprising ways of God which is kind of surprising to see in a book by a guy who was not that into God. And, apparently, it's about British imperialism. All that in a mere 145 (300!!!) pages. The scope of this small (unexpectedly medium-sized!!!) novel is pretty vast, and it's fascinating to see how Wells lays it all out to make his points from beginning to end but it never seems obvious what he's aiming for until you reach the end, reflect awhile, and it all sort of comes together. It's not really much of an unputdownable sci-fi adventure story, but it does have a lot to say about a lot of things that were important when it was written and a lot of things (though not all) that continue to be important and relevant today. It's not my favorite book, but I didn't dislike it, and I would have to say that having read it, I firmly believe it deserves its classichood. And I mean that in a good way.

Sorry, folks, I won't be de-classic-ing the classics for you today. We're using the save on this one! And you maybe won't get that last line there because you are, hopefully, not as big of an American Idol nerd as I am. That is all. See you in a few weeks soon!


  1. It is hard to stay away from the AI gossip, I agree. :-)

    My brother for the longest time was into ties and collected various themed ones. Not book related though.

    I haven't read War of the Worlds, although I've seen the recent movie (which I understand is very loosely based on the original story).

  2. I am unlikely to ever read this book, but I am always happy to see a post from you!

  3. I haven't read this "classic" and I'm not rushing off to.

    I enjoyed your recollections of the book club meeting. Maybe you'll feel more comfortable next time to say more. (And, maybe the book won't be so difficult to get through).

  4. "gimme some pie and don't ask me any questions" LOL!

    It's tough to discuss a book that you had to plod through (and didn't really care for!). What's the next book the group will tackle?

  5. That teacher sounds great. I wonder what he thought of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." lol.

  6. This is why I don't read classics - there are always way more words than should fit onto the pages!

  7. I loved every word of this post, margins and all. The book club sounds intimidating but fun!