I re-read it a three years ago, and was also struck by the quality of the writing. The scene involving the refugee-choked road was especially riveting. Also, if you read the novel as an adult, I think it's more clear that he was using the Martians as a stand-in for British colonialism. I started working through WOTW in Chinese - just a kids edition. I didn't get past Page One. I had second thoughts on the usefulness of learning words like "telegraph" in Chinese (although I have actually used "hou xing ren" - "martian" a few times).