I think I read this book for the first time in the 5th grade. The idea intrigued me and I expected it to be a little more spectacular than it really is. Not that it isn’t a good book, but it’s not what a child would expect. It certainly isn’t the comic book version that a child would expect. It’s much too realistic for that. His character, Griffen, an albino scientist, manages to create a process by which he can cause the light to refract off objects in a way which renders the object invisible. Griffen performs this operation on himself before he realizes all the disadvantages to being invisible. Once in that state, he finds that he must either walk around naked, problematic in winter, or he must cover himself from head to toe all of the time, which is nigh on impossible. He can no longer stay in his home nor hold down a job due to this and is forced to wander the countryside looking for the means to get by, by either honest or mostly dishonest means. After creating havoc in one small town, he moves on and finds an old friend, who might have been able to help him. However, by this time, Griffen is already half mad and has begun to plan to create a reign of terror, with which he sees no moral problem. Kemp, his friend, decides he needs to be stopped and eventually succeeds.
Wells must have put quite a lot of thought into what it would be like to be invisible before writing this book. He brings up things like the dirty feet and eating food, which would remain visible as long as it was undigested, that I wouldn’t have thought of. Although he could have carried it all a bit further than he did by pointing out that dirt clinging to the feet alone would have made the feet, or the outline thereof, visible.
Still, he manages to make the situation real and bring home the terrible loneliness that being invisible would cause. The only question I have at the end of the book is if Griffen really did go mad from being invisible or was he already mad by the time he created the process. He frankly didn’t seem very stable from the beginning and I think that being invisible just tipped him over the edge.