The Invisible Man, by H.G. Wells. Basically, a mad scientist develops superpowers, and makes himself invisible before he knows how to reverse the condition.
A brilliant, self-absorbed researcher discovers the secret to creating a machine that will turn things and people invisible. After three years, Griffin succeeds, just when he has reached the end of his resources and is facing eviction. Fearful that someone will discover his secretive work, he turns himself invisible. Unfortunately, being invisible comes with unforeseen problems. Griffin finds himself running around barefoot and without clothes in the middle of winter. He’s an invisible stumbling block, and people keep bumping into him.
The story is from the perspectives of the people the invisible man encounters. The third person is a nice change from first person books, because it shows how actions cause ripple through the community. The reader is not asked to empathize with any one person, as each side gets the chance to voice their own viewpoint, but each side tells a different part of the story, so it does not repeat itself.
H.G. Wells makes an interesting case for responsible use of power, by showing the difficulties that result from misusing power over others. This is a classic, and with good reason. There’s a lot of plot here, and a lot of thought went into the mechanics of invisibility; for instance, it wouldn’t work in the rain or if the person gets muddy. Griffin himself is an interesting case from a mental standpoint. He is completely alone in the world. No friends, no relations, and extremely secretive. I would expect a normal person on the point of eviction to acquire some investors for his working invention, not turn invisible and take to the streets. The thought of an invisible madman running loose, to do what he likes without consequences, is frightening.
Five out of five stars.
I listened to the audio-book read by Alex Foster, who has a nice voice and an English accent. He did a good job. He did voices for some of the characters, so it is very easy to follow conversations. Alex Foster kindly made his recording free via Librivox.
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