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Book Review

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

The story opens in the town of Iping in pre-industrial England. A stranger covered in bandages and wearing blue goggles rents a room at a pub owned by George and Janny Hall. He tells Mrs. Hall that he is an experimental investigator. The stranger has a great deal of luggage, including numerous bottles of potions. He keeps mainly to himself, sometime loudly expressing anger and frustration as he works. Mrs. Hall has witnessed some odd sights, but she says nothing because they need his rent money.

One evening, the town vicar and his wife are robbed. They can’t see anyone, but they hear coughing and see items moving. Suspicions begin to mount against the stranger, and the police arrive at the Halls’ pub. As officers prepare to arrest the stranger on suspicion of burglary, he wiggles out of his clothes and escapes, completely invisible.

As he flees, he sees a man named Marvel on the road. The Invisible Man enlists Marvel to help him get clothing and necessities. His threats keep Marvel at his disposal for a time. He steals money and hands it off to Marvel. He also has Marvel keep several books in which he has recorded his experiments.

When Marvel gets a chance, he breaks away from the Invisible Man. Marvel has the police lock him up so the Invisible Man can’t reach him. The Invisible Man pursues Marvel until he comes upon the house of an old college acquaintance named Kemp.

The Invisible Man, who now reveals his name is Griffin, tells Kemp about his exploits in elaborate detail. He explains his research involving light that led to his discovery of the potential for invisibility. He was too poor to conduct his experiments, so he stole from his father. The money apparently belonged to someone else, so Griffin’s father committed suicide.

After testing his invisibility formula on a cat, Griffin took the potion himself to become invisible. It was a painful but effective process. Griffin was initially elated by the possibilities invisibility held for him. He quickly realized there were many downsides. He was forced from his home and had to wander naked or else be discovered.

Undigested food would show in his invisible stomach, thereby giving away his presence. At times, people saw him making footprints and tried to chase him. If he was carrying anything in his hands or on his body, those items could be seen. Griffin finally snuck into a shop and made himself a crude costume that allowed him to go out in public. After that, he began to rent a room from the Halls.

When the people of Iping discovered his secret, he was on the run once again. As Kemp listens, he is struck by Griffin’s madness and selfishness. The Invisible Man seems thoroughly unconcerned about the people he hurts. Griffin further explains that he plans to frighten and dominate the people of Kemp’s town, Port Burdock. He invites Kemp to join him in his efforts.

Griffin doesn’t know that Kemp has alerted the police. When they arrive, Griffin escapes and begins his reign of terror. He leaves Kemp a note, threatening him and the city. He attacks several, including the police chief, before he comes after Kemp. Kemp and some of the other townspeople catch and kill Griffin. As he dies, Griffin becomes visible once again.

The epilogue reveals that Marvel kept all of Griffin’s stolen money. He owns an inn, where he sometimes tells his stories about Griffin if he’s had enough to drink. He secretly kept Griffin’s journals and sometimes reads through the Invisible Man’s records of his experiments. He vows no one else will ever know about them until he dies.

Christian Beliefs

Mrs. Hall notes that Griffin doesn’t go to church. One townsperson, who fancies himself a theologian, compares Griffin to the biblical one-talent man.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Police officers try to capture and subdue Griffin on several occasions. He eludes or injures them.


The Lord’s name is used in vain a number of times, as are the words d--n and a--. The n-word also appears once, but a footnote says the term probably refers to an Indian coolie or anyone working under harsh conditions. Griffin brutally injures and kills, and blood is sometimes shed.



Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

18 and up


H.G. Wells






Record Label



Barnes and Noble Classics, a trademark of Barnes and Nobel Inc.; republished in 2003 in The Time Machine and The Invisible Man


On Video

Year Published





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