Saturday, December 19, 2015

"The Island of Doctor Moreau" by H.G. Wells

Last December I read H.G. Wells's Invisible Man, so this December I thought I would try another of his books, and preferably not The War of the Worlds (because it bored me out of my 13 year old skull when I once tried to read it). I already knew most of the story behind this book due to watching a movie based off of it, but then again, I barely remembered that.

Usually, I'm not that intrigued by the beginning of most classics, but this one hooked me from the start. I have a penchant for liking island-based sci-fi and horror-esque tales, so that may have contributed to my speedy devouring of this book. Island settings are my kind of exotic, as I have never seen the ocean firsthand, and therefore I attribute all sorts of inherently mysterious traits to island settings, even if the author doesn't make them in any way mysterious.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Ranked among the classic novels of the English language and the inspiration for several unforgettable movies, this early work of H. G. Wells was greeted in 1896 by howls of protest from reviewers, who found it horrifying and blasphemous. They wanted to know more about the wondrous possibilities of science shown in his first book, The Time Machine, not its potential for misuse and terror. 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.
'While this riveting tale was intended to be a commentary on evolution, divine creation, and the tension between human nature and culture, modern readers familiar with genetic engineering will marvel at Wells’s prediction of the ethical issues raised by producing “smarter” human beings or bringing back extinct species. These levels of interpretation add a richness to Prendick’s adventures on Dr. Moreau’s island of lost souls without distracting from what is still a rip-roaring good read.'

This is a book where you really don't have to like the characters to enjoy it. In fact, I harbored great dislike for most of the characters in the book (except the strange creatures) because it was clear they didn't know what they were doing- and they did it anyway. With some books, it's the plot that keeps you enthralled, and I would have to say that is the case with this one, as there are a lot of controversial things being done that I don't in any way endorse.

Beyond the characters and the setting, I enjoyed the way this book was written much more than The Invisible Man, even with a few gaffes in the writing that wouldn't get past a modern editor. Oddly enough, this was published a year before that other book, but I took more pleasure in reading this one (even though now that I look, the ratings are identical). I remember being more annoyed with The Invisible Man, but with this one I was definitely more repulsed- the subject matter is a lot different.

A favorite quote (that sums up the plot of the book):

What could it all mean? A locked enclosure on a lonely island, a notorious vivisector, and these crippled and distorted men?

    ~The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, 25% Kindle Edition

The Island of Doctor Moreau is a place I don't believe I'd like to visit in real life. Honestly, if I ended up there, I'd be trying to swim home rather than risk spending the night. In that manner, this book has accomplished its purpose- to scare and be entertaining. Unfortunately, other than entertainment value, there were few points to add to its rating, other than quotability and the occasional 'big think' moment. If you want to take an adventure on a creepy island, I recommend this book, as long as you can withstand the content.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great, albeit creepy, read.

Content: Ages 14+ for intensive animal abuse, medical misbehavior, and men playing God.

Page Count: 160 pages


  1. I wonder what I would think of this if I read it today. I was in high school when I last read it. I remember liking it then (I was one of those rare kids who liked just about everything I was assigned to read--with the exception of Shakespeare).

    1. You're lucky then- I had a teacher in high school who would assign books to read, which I liked for the most part, and then she taught them to us, which made me not like them at all. It's hard to tell if you'll like books more or less if you read them as an adult- for the most part, my ratings have only gone up (because I'd forgotten how good the books were).
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle


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