Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau
The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Four stars, or only three? I went back and forth on this one. I love that there is so much going on beneath the surface of the text, especially when you consider the debate over evolution and scientific advancement vs. religion and morality that was happening when Wells wrote this novel. Is Moreau playing God? If you liked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you’ll love this book.

So, why only three stars? Mostly for the cliche of using a manuscript found by someone else. (This was magnified by the fact I was reading A Princess of Mars at the same time and it also uses that formula.) Also, there’s Wells’ habit of keeping the narrator at arm’s length. You never really feel like you know or can identify with Pendrick. He is the prototype of the educated, scientific-minded Victorian gentleman standing on a foundation of Christian virtue, an aloof narrator and judge of the events going on around him, and that tone never changes, even when he is plunged into peril.

Still, it’s an excellent story and the questions it asks are just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. It moves along faster than Frankenstein and doesn’t suffer from quite so much philosophizing as Shelley used. It’s a short classic and well worth the time.

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