The Island of Dr. Moreau

Whenever I wander throughout Barnes & Noble I always take a few minutes to look through the tables where they have books that have been assigned for students to read for their classes.  I’m always interested in seeing what teachers have assigned for their students to read, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see a book that I really enjoyed on those tables.  I’ve seen The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and Variant by Rob Wells which were all books that I enjoyed.  But then I also cringe every time I see Shakespeare (I’m not a big fan) or Dickens (Great Expectations is on the shortlist for the worst book that I’ve ever read).  Anyway, recently while looking through those books, I found The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells and just finished reading it this morning, so here we go.  There will be a couple of spoilers in here, but the book is almost 120 years old at this point.

Book StatsDr. Moreau

140 pages

Science Fiction

Characters

The characters in this book are possibly the weakest part, but I think this mostly comes from the book having been written nearly 120 years ago, and the simple fact that writing styles have changed over time.  The book is written as though it’s a memoir of the main character, Edward Prendick.  There’s really nothing about any of the characters that stands out, this book is really more about the ideas presented in it.

Setting

An island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Plot

After being shipwrecked, Prendick is rescued by a passing ship and ultimately deserted on the Island of Dr. Moreau, where he learns about the experiments that Moreau has been conducting in transforming animals into humans.  His experiments are in some ways largely successful, as the animals are able to speak and conduct themselves as people for most of the book.

Enjoyment

The first thing that I noticed about this book is how badly dated the writing style feels compared to, well, pretty much every other book that I’ve read recently.  In a nutshell, this is the biggest problem with a lot of books when you look at them long enough after they were written.  Styles of writing change, hell, the English language changes over time, and that’s what makes it so hard to back and read some books that were written a long time ago.  Once you get past the writing style, there is a very interesting story within the book, by the standards of books today, it’s more of a story seed or an outline than a book in itself.

The main idea of the story is that through surgical techniques you could make animals almost human, if the book were to be written today, instead of surgery it would be genetic therapy or some other type of gene modification, but the idea still works.  I thought that the most interesting aspect of the book was how they manage to control the beast-men.  They created a litany of laws that they all follow, and in some ways they worship Moreau as a god.  It also shows some of Prendick’s intelligence in that he realizes this and tries to use it to control the beast-men once Moreau dies.

Overall Grade

Some really interesting ideas, but an extremely dated writing style.  Worth looking into if you’re a fan of Wells’ other books or if you’re interested in some early Science Fiction.

6/10

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3 Comments

  1. hannahrose42

     /  September 9, 2013

    I’ve always wanted to read this one, but the fact that the writing is so old has always made me hesitant. I love science fiction, and maybe once I get out of my fantasy kick, I can give it a go. I believe I have the original version for Kindle, but as I’m reading three other books on my Kindle right now, the space for reading more seems a little cramped.

    Reply
    • I wouldn’t worry about getting to this one too quickly. I’m a bigger fan of Fantasy novels anyway, so I’d keep going through more of those.

      Reply
      • hannahrose42

         /  September 9, 2013

        I’ve moved more towards fantasy after high school, and never looked back. I keep thinking that I want to read more sci-fi, but fantasy is just so awesome!

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