Study Guide

The War of the Worlds Tough-o-Meter

By H.G. Wells


(6) Tree Line

If you've read The War of the Worlds a few times (like we have) it's pretty clear.

If this is your first time reading it, however, you're going to face two obstacles: 1) the plot can be weird and confusing, and 2) the writing is also occasionally weird and confusing.

Here's the deal with the plot: the story jumps around a bit. One chapter will be about Character A from Sunday to Monday, and the next chapter will be about Character B from Saturday to Tuesday. It's sometimes hard to keep track of what's going on. (But don't worry. Our "Detailed Summary" is pretty thorough, and even Wells himself had trouble keeping the plot straight. Probably because he didn't have us to help him out.)

Another issue is that if you're expecting some action-adventure story, in which the people band together to fight the aliens and something exciting happens every few minutes, you might be a little disappointed. Most of this novel is taken up with running and hiding from the Martians – and then watching them and thinking about them.

The second obstacle is Wells' style. See, Wells is from the 1800's and he sure writes like it, so you may need to read some of his sentences twice to fully understand them. (Or do what we do: read the book over and over.)

But one other issue makes this book's style extra dense: there's a lot of Biblical language in this book. Let's say you've just gotten used to Wells' 1800's writing style (yahoo!) when suddenly – boom – he lays down some King James Bible language on you. It's not terribly frequent, but it happens. So, props to you for navigating all this.