A Massacre of Literature | Review of ‘The Massacre of Mankind’ (War of the Worlds #2)

By Cynthia Ayala

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter
Crown Publishing Group
Image Credit: Goodreads

“It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared. So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat. He is right. Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist – sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins – must survive, escape and report on the war. The Massacre of Mankind has begun.” —Goodreads

Published August 22, 2017, by Crown Publishing Group, The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter is a sequel to the H.G. Wells classic The War of the Worlds.

Wow. Okay, so I’m going to try to be objective here when I write this, but before I say anything else, it’s going to be difficult because I had such high aspirations about what this book was going to be. I am a long-time fan of H.G. Wells works, and War of the Worlds would probably have to be my favorite because it’s the one, to me, that has the quickest pace. It moves too fast, and I’ve probably read this novel about three times. Twice for class and the once for my own enjoyment. So I love it, which is probably why I was so disappointed in this novel.

What made H.G. Wells such a good writer was his ability to be concise in the writing of this story. He was incredible in his ability to do that. With a novel that went up to probably 200 pages, depending on the edition. Here you have a story that is about twice that length. But you know what, a good story can be told no matter the length, short or long, a good story can be captivating or it can’t. This story was not.

The biggest problem that this novel had was its inability to be concise. The earlier part of the novel pretty much recaps what happened in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. That’s no essential. It’s understandable that the author here is trying to give it a more realistic feel, he’s trying to ingrain in the reader that the story was a memoir, and he’s using characters in the novel to overanalyze what’s going on in the novel. That’s entirely unnecessary, especially in the way he does it. It’s tedious how he moves the story into his narrative, into something he wants to create. He gives the characters so much to talk about, and it’s not something that the story needs to focus on. That’s what gave its predecessor such a clean edge. There is so much unessential detail going on in the story that it detracts from what’s going on here in the actual story. Half the time the narrator talks about the present but then goes back to the past to tell the story about what’s going on. The reader doesn’t need to know what’s going on outside the story in the narrators “present,” the point in which they are telling the story. None of that is important, and it boggles me, it boggles me to place this as a sequel because this novel just drags on and on. It’s just tedious. There was a point in my life where I would just look at the novel and groan at the thought of picking it up to read it. That’s how much I didn’t like reading this novel.

Lackluster storytelling aside, the narrative itself isn’t clear. There are times in the novel where one the narrator was completely lost. She’s just lost in all the madness of everything going on in the story to the point where I had no idea who the hell was telling the story. That went on throughout the novel where shifts in tone made me think it was someone else. It just wasn’t clear. To be perfectly honest I’m still not completely sure who the narrator was. I’m only 98% sure I have an idea (and that’s mainly due to the blurb), but no one wants to go back, think, re-read, and try to figure something out that should be clear to the reader.

I’m sorry, I just wasn’t a fan of the novel. I was so excited to read this novel, but at the end of the day, I was just horribly disappointed. (★★☆☆☆ | D)

Product Details:

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

Page count: 487pp

Age Range: 16 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6012-0

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)

List Price:  $27.00

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