Rummanah Aasi
  I remember a really bad movie called The Island of Dr Moreau which featured Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer back in the 1990s as a kid and always thought it was so weird, but I didn't realize it was an adaptation of a book. It's not until hearing lots of publicity of Megan Shepherd's debut novel, The Madman's Daughter, a loosely adapted YA retelling of Well's original story did I decide to pick it up. The Island of Dr. Moreau is well worth picking up and reading, especially if you enjoy science fiction and Gothic horror.

Description: In The Island of Dr. Moreau a shipwrecked gentleman named Edward Prendick, stranded on a Pacific island lorded over by the notorious Dr. Moreau, confronts dark secrets, strange creatures, and a reason to run for his life. 

Review: Unsettling, bizarre, and most definitely ahead of his time, H.G. Well's lesser known novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau, is a very slim novel that tackles a variety of themes along with giving its readers a full dose of suspense, horror, and science fiction. Edward Prendick finds himself shipwrecked on an island with Doctors Montgomery and Moreau. Montgomery is the protege and follower of the Moreau, mad scientist and vivisectionist. A vivisectionist is someone who cuts and injures living animals for the purpose of scientific research. Beyond these scientists, Prendick finds himself intensely frightened (that's an understatement) by these creatures roaming around the island. 
  Prendick discovers that Moreau captures the island's animals and painfully turns them into half-men, then forces them to live by strict standards that he believes will overcome their bestial natures. These creatures of treated as subservient slaves, obligated to follow Moreau's commandments much like the Ten Commandments in which the number one rule is to not eat meat. It doesn't take a mad scientist to know that all of this is a recipe for disaster with horrible consequences. I really like how Wells juxtaposed the notion of bestial behavior by pitting the natural craving for meat against the humans conducting so-called 'experiments' just to see if things can be done. 
  Prendick finds himself in a predicament. Though appalled by Moreau's plan, he actually becomes a participant in Moreau's society of vivisection. Prendick is drawn to Moreau's brilliance and is enchanted by  the notion that Moreau could actually be right but that haze of illusion is cleared when the animals inevitably rebel and he becomes the last man on the island, watching the tortured animals return to their natures and throw off Moreau's pseudo-society. The true horror of the book isn't just the creatures no matter how strange they look, but rather the human monster who creates in the name of advancement.
 Though overlooked by other more popular horror novels such as Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau is relevant more now than ever with our outstanding and always progressing technology. Genetics, animal experimentation, psychology, colonization, imperialism, patriarchy, scientific chauvinism, religion, and ethical imposition are seriously and intelligently explored within the layers of the story. Wells' implied conclusions may be unsettling at times, but that is the point.

Curriculum Connection: Ethics, Science, and Debate

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: The violence in the novel is quite tame compared to today's books, but I would still recommend this book to older readers due to the book's themes.

If you like this book try: Dr Franklin's Island by Ann Halm, The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
2 Responses
  1. My innate reaction is to say no way to a book like this. It sounds creepy and science fictiony which aren't my favs - although my genre choices are changing. I should give it a try - given how classic HG Wells is.


  2. Small Review Says:

    I enjoyed this book, too, though it was very unsettling. Glad you liked it! I wouldn't have thought of it as a Halloween read, but now that you bring it up it really does fit nicely.


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