Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

The Thousander Club Book of the Month for October was The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. Having just finished my previous read, I had a "why not" moment and decided to jump on board and give this classic a read.

The Island of Dr. Moreau is written as the memoir of Edward Prendick, a man who found himself shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean. He is saved by a doctor named Montgomery who nurses him back to health and takes pity on him when the boat reaches its destination and allows him to stay on the island. Montgomery works for Dr. Moreau, a surgeon who fled all organized society when his controversial experiments are exposed to horrified onlookers. Moreau's goal is to humanize animals. He uses surgery, implantation, and lobotomy to give his animals a more human appearance and also gives them the ability to talk and reason to a certain extent. He sometimes even combines several animals parts in this effort. Each of his "monsters" end up eventually being a disappointment to him, and they are then cast out into the island to live together. He instills in them a code of laws that help keep them a) human-like, b) from eating each other, and c) from revolting against him. Moreau is treated like a God by these animals, as he is their creator. Like so many other "monster" style novels, this God complex turns out to be Moreau's downfall when one of his animals escapes his torture and kills him. Prendick and Montgomery are left to fend for themselves as well as some of the more loyal "Beast Men." Eventually Montgomery is also killed and Prendick is left alone to watch the eventual regression of each Beast Man back to its animal form. Prendick eventually is able to escape the island and is picked up by a ship that brings him back to England, but he can never forget the things that occurred on the island and finds himself believing that everyone is actually an animal in one state or other of the regression process.

This book was well written, but honestly I found it a little difficult to get into. Don't get me wrong, I am no PETA member or anything like that, but I had a hard time keeping reading when the book describes the tortured screams of the puma that Dr. Moreau is "transforming" when Prendick first arrives. I'm not squeamish, but I'm not a fan of torture, human or animal. I read on though and after that part is done it's not so bad. The section where the animals describe "the law" is pretty tedious, but it does make sense as to why it was important to emphasize. Once the law is broken and an animal tastes blood, their regression begins. Dr. Moreau can only maintain control while his laws are in place and inforced. The afterword in this book places a big emphasis on the difference between Dr. Moreau and Dr. Frankenstein. Both create monsters in the name of human advancement and science and both are killed by their creations in the end. The big difference is that Moreau never feels remorse for his actions. He is completely focused on the goal and has no moral problems whatsoever with what he is doing. He is even able to look at the animals as just test subjects to allow him to endure their screaming and pain.

Overall I was left with a feeling of "eh" when I finished this book. It was interesting, but really not my thing overall. I can completely see why this book cause so much fame for H.G. Wells simply because of its controversial nature. All I can say is that ... it's short, lol, so it's worth the read if you are curious. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining in the conversation!